DELPHI, Ind. – The man charged in connection with the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi wants his trial moved.
The court-appointed attorneys for 50-year-old Richard Allen filed a request this week for a change of venue. Allen is charged with two counts of murder in connection with the February 2017 case. Court documents remain under seal at the request of Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland.
The motion for the change of venue cites “extensive media attention” and the “highly publicized” nature of the case from the initial investigation through Allen’s arrest. The murders have garnered significant coverage in local, statewide and national media, the motion noted. Allen’s attorneys also said coverage on podcasts and social media extended its reach.
“Although it could be argued that the amount of publicity that this particular case has received in the past 5+ years will make it difficult to find a jury that has not heard of this case, Richard Allen’s defense team has gleaned statistical data that would strongly indicate that moving the case/trial just 150 miles away would significantly reduce the likelihood of obtaining a tainted jury pool,” the motion read.
To illustrate their point, attorneys cited Google Trends data showing that searches for their client’s name “ranged between 1,000 and 10,000 searches for a county with just over 20,000 residents” during the month of October in Carroll County alone. On average, one in every two Carroll County residents searched his name after his arrest.
The motion compared that data to Fort Wayne, which has about 260,000 residents, making it about 13 times the size of Carroll County in terms of population. Searches for Richard Allen ranged 1,000 and 10,000 searches after Allen’s arrest, representing about 1 in every 26 residents (or about 3.8%).
While Fort Wayne is less than 100 miles away from Delphi, the motion argued that search traffic dropped in communities farther away from Delphi. Moving the trial farther away would increase the likelihood of finding jurors who weren’t familiar with the case, they argued.
Delphi’s small size—about 3,000 residents—would make it challenging to find an impartial jury, the motion argued. Hundreds of Delphi residents were also involved in the search for the girls, making them potential witnesses and preventing them from joining the jury pool. In the case that they were called to serve as jurors, they could have information that could influence other members of the jury.
“It is common sense to presume that residents from counties further away from Carroll County will not have the same level of investment in the case and therefore will be able to more fairly decide the matter without concern about how their verdict may affect their relationships with other Carroll County residents,” the motion read.
The motion also suggested that Allen was well known in the community, as he worked at the CVS in Delphi. Many residents may have come across him or known him personally, further limiting the number of available jurors.
Benjamin Diener, the Carroll County judge who initially oversaw the case, recused himself. Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull has been assigned to oversee the proceedings and is weighing whether to unseal court documents following a Nov. 22 hearing.
Investigators and prosecutors haven’t given any indication how Allen may be tied to the case, but his arrest last month sent shockwaves through the small city of Delphi. It came more than five years after the unsolved murders of Abby Williams and Libby German, who disappeared on Feb. 13, 2017, after going for a hike on the Delphi Historic Trails. Their bodies were found a day later on Feb. 14, 2017, leading to a high-profile search for their killer.
Shortly after the girls’ deaths, Indiana State Police released key evidence, including a sketch, a grainy photo of the killer and a recording of a man saying, “Down the hill.” Two years later, police released a second sketch. Despite numerous tips over the years, the case had gone cold until Allen’s arrest in October.