FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — While the Delphi murder trial is attracting more media attention than has been seen in ages for an Indiana case, Allen County Chief Public Defender William “Billy” Lebrato, one of two Allen County public defenders recently assigned to the case, doesn’t believe the trial will impact the daily work of the department.
“It’s not a death penalty case or an LWOP (life without parole) case, it’s just a double homicide which we do routinely, unfortunately, here in Allen County. The only impact it will have is the travel time to another county,” Lebrato said Thursday just after the quarterly public defender board meeting held at the Rousseau Centre.
Lebrato said a round trip to Carroll County, where the trial is currently being held, is five hours.
“We have seven investigators and two assigned specifically to that case so I don’t think we’ll need outside resources, but the state’s Public Defenders Council, based out of Indianapolis, is always willing to help,” Lebrato said.
Lebrato, who’s been a public defender for nearly 25 years, has had conversations with Bernice Corley, the executive director of Indiana Public Defender Council, who “has offered assistance if we needed it. We just don’t know at this point what’s coming our way as far as discovery. We’ve gotten a little bit, but not all of it yet,” Lebrato said.
“It’s definitely an interesting case. It’s garnered a lot of media attention,” Lebrato said. “It’s a brutal homicide but Mr. Scremin and I will do our jobs and we’ll do it professionally like we always do and represent Mr. Allen to the best of our abilities.”
Richard Allen was charged in the double homicide a year ago in October. He is accused of stabbing to death 13-year-old Abby Williams and 14-year-old Libby German, who were found in February 2017 on a hiking trail in Carroll County near an abandoned railroad bridge.
No new court date has been scheduled, but Lebrato expects many before the trial date set for Oct. 15.
“It just depends on what motions are filed. I can say that the prosecutor in Delphi has been very easy to work with and we just both look forward to handling a very clean, professional case,” Lebrato said.
The public defender’s office is at full capacity, but intends to hire two more public defenders with a couple of retirements. The new positions will be for a Level 1 through Level 5 felony public defender and a drug public defender that can handle cases from Level 6 through Level 2, Lebrato said.