05/18/2024

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Libby German, Richard Allen, Abby Williams

‘Hearsay, speculation, rumors’: Prosecutors in Delphi murders case move to block defense from mentioning ‘Odinist’ cult ritual theory of victims’ deaths

Left: Liberty “Libby” German (FBI); Center: Richard Allen (Indiana State Police); Right: Abigail “Abby” Williams. (FBI).

Prosecutors in the Delphi murders case, where a man stands accused of murdering two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana, have asked a judge to severely limit how defense lawyers can represent their client.

The judge overseeing the case, in recent days, has seemed likely to grant the state’s request — which would qualify as yet another in a long and undeniable series of setbacks for the defense.

Richard Allen, 50, is slated to go on trial for two counts of murder next month. Adamant about his innocence, the defendant had hoped to be able to provide jurors with an alternate theory and suspects for the high-profile former cold case murders.

Prosecutors say the defendant should not be allowed to do so.

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    “Before any such evidence may be permitted the Defense must show some connection between the 3rd party and the crime,” Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland wrote in a Monday motion obtained by The Indianapolis Star. “Further it must be a direct connection based on admissible evidence and not founded in hearsay, speculation, rumors, conjecture or theory.”

    A key element of the defense’s case is the notion that practitioners of Odinism — a modern-day re-imagination of ancient Norse mythology and religious practices — perpetrated the brutal crimes.

    The underlying case concerns the deaths of 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German and 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams. Both girls were abducted and murdered while walking the Monon High Bridge Trail near Delphi, Indiana, on Feb. 13, 2017. Their bodies were later moved to a different location and “staged,” authorities say.

    Allen was arrested for the murders on Oct. 28, 2022. He has consistently maintained his innocence — though prosecutors claim he admitted to the killings in a series of jailhouse phone calls. Defense attorneys Brad A. Rozzi and Andrew J. Baldwin have argued that their client’s diminished mental capacity — the product of his initial lockup — should more or less negate those alleged admissions.

    A September 2023 filing outlined the defense’s theory of the case.

    “Evidence supports that at the crime scene, these murdering Odinites left behind obvious signatures, symbols in the form of runes. These runes were (1) formed with sticks, (2) fashioned with tree branches and (3) painted using the blood of Liberty German,” the document reads. “Sticks and tree branches were deliberately, carefully and proficiently placed on each girl in a certain arrangement mimicking certain runes. At least one of the branches appeared to have its end cut off cleanly by some type of tool like an electric saw, providing proof of a preconceived plan. Additionally, the blood of Liberty German was used as the paint to mark a tree with a rune that looks similar to the letter ‘F’.”

    The state also aims to bar the defense from mentioning a previous investigation conducted by since-retired Rushville police chief Todd Click. That investigation was premised on the notion that three men from Rush County might have been responsible for the killings.

    In May 2023, the defense noted in a prior filing that Click sent the current prosecutorial team a letter notifying them about his concerns over the lack of evidence against Allen in comparison to the evidence he and other investigators amassed when looking into Odinists in the area.

    According to the Star, citing a 136-page defense memorandum, one of those three men told his sister he was present for the girls’ slaughter and described crime scene details that had yet to be made public.

    In that filing, McLeland included a 12-point laundry list of potential no-go zones for the defense, the paper reported — including the basic theory that the teenagers’ death was a cult ritual and the names of the men previously investigated.

    Allen seems unlikely to avail himself of such evidence.

    “I am quite familiar with the law regarding third party perpetrators and unless the defense can provide nexus between any alleged third party perpetrators and the charged crimes, those allegations are unsupported and will be inadmissible,” Special Judge Fran C. Gull wrote in an April 28 email to the defense obtained by Indianapolis-based NBC affiliate WTHR.

    The trial is expected to begin on May 13 and last until the end of the month. The judge, in last week’s email, said that timeline was firm, in response to claims from the defense that they simply needed more time considering the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses, and transportation issues.

    “The Court’s approach to such rigid trial schedule infringes upon Defendant Allen ‘s Sixth Amendment Rights and underscores the need for the Court to conduct scheduling hearing regarding the trial,” a defense motion reads.

    Gull, for her part, said her previously carved out time frame of fewer than three weeks “is the length of the trial, not more or less.”

    Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

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    The post ‘Hearsay, speculation, rumors’: Prosecutors in Delphi murders case move to block defense from mentioning ‘Odinist’ cult ritual theory of victims’ deaths first appeared on Law & Crime.