CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. — Revelations over the weekend that the leak of defense team crime scene evidence to Delphi social media posters will force Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull to take a hard look at the status of the Richard Allen murder case Thursday.
Allen is accused of killing Libby German and Abby Williams not far from the banks of Deer Creek below the Monon High Bridge in Carroll County on February 13, 2017.
He was arrested a year ago and faces a Jan. 8, 2024 trial before Judge Gull who was appointed by the Indiana Supreme Court to hear the case in Delphi.
This weekend The Murder Sheet podcast reported, and FOX59/CBS4 News partially confirmed, that a recent leak of crucial evidence in the possession of Allen’s attorneys to Delphi case observers active on social media caused the court to order a status hearing this week in Fort Wayne to consider “other matters which have recently arisen.”
It’s believed those other matters include the leak to the social media posters.
” It’s out of control out there, unfortunately,” said Aine Cain of The Murder Sheet. ”It definitely raised questions about what exactly happened and how was this allowed to happen.”
The Murder Sheet reported, and FOX59/CBS4 has reviewed documentation indicating, that a former employee of Allen’s lawyer Andrew Baldwin accessed the evidence that the defense team received under discovery from the state.
That information was passed on to a Fishers man who was active on Facebook sharing messages with at least one other case follower as well as likely passing that evidence onto another person who then leaked it to other social media posters.
Cain and co-host Kevin Greenlee were contacted on Oct. 5 by one of those secondary posters who urged the podcasters to contact Indiana State Police investigators and advised authorities that a sensitive leak of evidence had occurred.
”We essentially printed out what our source wanted us to print out in addition to the graphic crime scene images that we received and then after doing an in-person interview, we deleted those graphic crime scene images from our devices,” said Cain.
Greenlee then reverse-engineered the leak from his source to the original leaker connected to Baldwin.
”When we saw the Facebook communications between our source and the person who provided him with these images, we looked at that other person’s Facebook profile and we saw his list of friends and we saw on that list a name we recognized and this was the name of a person who had been a former employee of Andrew Baldwin’s criminal defense team.”
Baldwin is precluded from commenting on the case due to a standing Gag Order from Judge Gull. However, another defense attorney who knows Allen’s lawyer does not believe he intentionally participated in the leak.
”I think highly of the attorneys involved and I think real highly of Andrew Baldwin,” said Shay Hughes of the Tippecanoe County Public Defenders Office. “I don’t think there’s any willfulness going on. Whether or not there’s negligent handling of the discovery, I don’t know. I would assume there are safeguards put in place.”
Not only is there a Court Order regarding access to case discovery and an existing Gag Order, but Judge Gull also admonished the defense team last spring during an earlier inadvertent leak of discovery information to a third party.
Some of that leaked information was also shared on social media.
”Yeah. It’s a mess. The social media element has made more of a mess and it’s hurt real people,” said Cain. “It hurt the people who should be uplifted in this whole situation which are the families of Libby and Abby and I think there’s something very troubling and disgraceful about that and it’s just compounding a tragedy at this point.”
Baldwin could potentially be represented by a lawyer of his own in Judge Gull’s courtroom Thursday as she attempts to unravel this latest evidence leak.
”I think it’s extremely concerning for all parties involved. I think it kind of cuts both ways,” said Hughes as there has previously been some sparring between the defense and Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland over alternative murder theories and allegations of misleading evidence and bad faith in providing information to Allen’s lawyers. ”I think it makes things more problematic than previously. You kind of see that between the state and the defense and this doesn’t help things.”
The court’s sanctions could range from a dressing down of the defense team up to dismissal of Allen’s lawyers.
”For Thursday, I think it’s premature for anything to be done,” said Hughes. “I think it will probably be referenced, but if you’re expecting any type of sanction or someone being found in contempt, that’s premature. Nothing has been filed to suggest that. I think the investigation into the leak needs to play its course and then it’s up to the state to how they want to address it later on.”
Along with delving into the leak, Judge Gull must still rule on a defense request to toss the search warrant of Allen’s house that led to his arrest a year ago, a media request to provide cameras in the courtroom both this week and during the trial and Allen’s protestation of his continued incarceration at an Indiana Department of Correction prison.
”What’s important to remember is Richard Allen is presumed innocent until determined guilty,” said Greenlee. “He has been sitting in Westville Prison for about a year now. If Judge Gull chooses to remove his defense attorneys, his trial which is scheduled to begin in January, it will certainly not begin in January because these new attorneys are going to need to take time, months or perhaps a year or more, just to learn the case and so his pre-trial detention period is just going to grow even longer through no direct fault of his own.”
”I think that the fact that this leak comes from the defense attorneys’ side, it makes it a little bit more complicated because they’re the ones fighting the system and this happened. I think in general, this case has become a circus and it’s driven by social media to a large degree,” said Cain, who reluctantly admits that a podcast, even one hosted by a reporter and a lawyer, exists in the social media realm. ”I think we’re seeing the dark side of the curiosity here because what you’re having is people that are putting their own need for information and their own essentially personal gratification above the health and well-being of the case and this brief certainly speaks to that underlying trend. I think that social media has inflamed this case at every turn and I think that it’s a double-edged sword. You have the sheer amount of crankery that has occurred.”
Meanwhile, investigators are also aware of the unexpected death of one of the persons involved in the chain of leaked information last week.