CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. – We now have some additional insight into the reasons Carroll County’s prosecutor asked a judge to seal records in the Delphi murder case.
Among other things, Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland argued that releasing the probable cause affidavit and other court documents related to Richard Allen would “create serious and imminent danger to the public interest” and possibly damage an “ongoing murder investigation.”
Allen is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Abby Williams and Libby German in February 2017. Indiana State Police announced his arrest in October 2022, more than five years after their deaths.
The probable cause affidavit was kept under seal after Allen’s arrest. McLeland asked the court to shield it and other records from public view, a request approved by Judge Benjamin Diener, who later recused himself from the case in November.
Special Judge Fran Gull of Allen County was then appointed to oversee the Delphi case. She authorized the release of a redacted version of the affidavit in November. In it, prosecutors said an unspent round found near the girls’ bodies traced back to a gun owned by Allen.
McLeland’s original motion to have those records sealed, however, was not made available. Several media organizations filed a request to see the document, including Nexstar Media Group, FOX59/CBS4’s parent company. Gull ruled in favor of media intervenors this week, making the record available to the public.
The motion included six reasons McLeland wanted the probable cause affidavit and other court documents related to Allen kept under seal. They boiled down to protecting the public interest and preventing information from being released that could “damage an ongoing murder investigation,” although the motion didn’t elaborate on the latter point.
The state argued:
- That the public interest will be secured by the sealing of the record;
- That dissemination of the information contained in the record will create serious and imminent danger to the public interest;
- That any prejudicial effect created by dissemination of the information cannot be avoided by any reasonable method other than sealing of the record;
- That there is substantial probability that sealing of the record will be effective in protecting the public interest against the perceived danger;
- That the public interest will be substantially served by prohibiting access for the reason that the release of the information might damage an ongoing murder investigation; or;
- That access or dissemination of the Court Record will create significant risk of substantial harm to the requestor, other persons, or the general public.
From the document:
Further the State is asking the Court to find that remedial benefits to be gained by effectuating the public policy of the state are outweighed by preponderance of the evidence for the above referenced reasons and seal the records involved with this Cause of Action, until further Order of the Court and for all other just and proper relief in the premises.
In addition to making the previously sealed motion available, Gull granted a request this week from the state to protect discovery materials from public consumption. The judge’s order stated that one copy of discovery material may be provided to Allen’s defense attorneys and made available to any experts or investigators involved in building their client’s defense case.
No unauthorized parties may have access to that material, and it’s incumbent upon the defense to comply with the order.
Allen is next due in court for a bail hearing on June 15; Gull set aside an additional June 16 date in case more discussion is required. A new trial date will be discussed during that time.