Delphi defense team makes plea to state Supreme Court; gets reinstated

Jan. 18—INDIANAPOLIS — It's been a roller coaster of a last few months for defense attorneys Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin.

For roughly a year, the pair was part of the legal team for accused Delphi murder suspect Richard Allen, who was arrested in October 2022 for the murders of Carroll County teenagers Libby German and Abby Williams.

Then last October, they were officially disqualified by the special judge presiding over the case, Allen County Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.

In her decision to remove the attorneys, Gull cited "gross negligence," referring to a set of crime scene photos that were photographed at Baldwin's office and then ultimately leaked to a news outlet.

So, the pair took their pleas to remain on the case to a higher power: the Indiana Supreme Court.

On Thursday morning, the justices had a chance to listen.

And by Thursday afternoon, those same five justices agreed with Rozzi and Baldwin, ultimately ruling the pair will be reinstated to represent Allen for the duration of the case.

Along with that decision, the Indiana Supreme Court also ruled Gull will continue to preside over the case, which is tentatively scheduled to go to trial in October.

The Indiana Supreme Court's ruling came a few hours after a Thursday morning hearing inside the high court in downtown Indianapolis, in which attorneys for Gull — Matt Gutwein and Angela Sanchez — and attorneys for Rozzi and Baldwin — Mark Leeman and Cara Wieneke — were each allowed to come to the microphone and address their client's concerns when it came to three particular issues.

Those issues included whether Rozzi and Baldwin should continue representing Allen, whether Gull should continue presiding over the case and when the actual jury trial will occur.

Allen, who was not in attendance Thursday, had already made it known publicly that he wanted a speedy trial and that he also desired for Rozzi and Baldwin to remain as his legal representation.

However, during Leeman's arguments Thursday's hearing, Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush pointed out that Rozzi and Baldwin knew Allen wanted a speedy trial last year, but they never officially filed a request for one.

Leeman responded to Rush's claim by stating Rozzi and Baldwin essentially believed they would have had time to ultimately file a motion for a speedy trial, but they were "blown out of the water from a judge who exceeded her authority."

"My client (referring to Allen in this case) was entitled to a jury trial today," Leeman argued. "My client's entitled to a jury trial with effective lawyers that he spent a year and three months developing a well-thought-out strategy ... and a speedy trial to catch that prosecutor on their back foot."

Later on during Leeman's arguments, the attorney was also asked by Justice Christopher Goff what would have happened if the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against Allen and allowed the case to proceed to trial with a set of lawyers who Allen didn't want representing him.

Leeman quickly noted if that had been the case, and the court proceedings would have continued as is, then the trial would have been "for show."

"That's why we came here as fast as we could," he said. "If we do not get something done now, the victims are going to be hurt, the public is going to be hurt. The entire Indiana judiciary is going to be harmed because this trial has been pushed off to October. And when the judge set it to October 2024, one of the lawyers that is representing now said he didn't think that they were going to get to that date either. Everybody's hurt."

As for Gull's side of the issues, her legal team argued Thursday that their client was just using rightful "discretion" when she decided to disqualify Rozzi and Baldwin.

"The trial court in exercising her discretion does not need to find ineffective counsel," Gutwein told the justices. "There just needs to be the possibility of ineffective counsel."

Rush then interjected that defendants have a constitutional right to choose counsel, which it appeared Allen was doing by stating he wanted Rozzi and Baldwin to remain on the case.

"A judge has a very limited right to tell someone who their attorney should be," she stated.

Another concern that Gutwein raised later in his arguments is what he called "nine days of a lot of lawyering," referring to the period of time Rozzi and Baldwin decided upon themselves to step back from the case.

Calling the pair "highly competent lawyers," Gutwein said they noticed the judge was considering disqualifying them last October and took it upon themselves to withdraw instead of filing a continuance or asking for an open hearing on the matter.

Gutwein then finished his arguments by stating no one really knows what "Mr. Allen wants."

That last claim by Gutwein led to a passionate rebuttal by Leeman, who held up a piece of paper and began to read from it.

The paper was Allen's own handwritten letter he wrote Gull last year, in which Allen said he knew about the leaked evidence in the case but still wanted to have Rozzi and Baldwin as his attorneys.

"Our obligation is our defendant," Leeman said after reading the letter in its entirety. "He wants Rozzi and Baldwin to represent him regardless of what they say. ... Our client, he's been clear with what he wants. This is what we're going to do to protect his rights. ... He couldn't have been more clear on Oct. 11, Oct. 19 or even on Oct. 31. To do anything short would be a half-measure."

As for other Delphi news that broke after the conclusion of Thursday's hearing, Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland has now filed a motion to amend charges that Allen currently faces in the case, which are right now just two felony counts of murder.

But according to Thursday afternoon's filing, McLeland and the Carroll County Prosecutor's Office want to pursue two additional charges of felony murder and two additional charges of kidnapping.

McLeland's reasoning behind this potential change is due in part to those charges more "accurately" aligning with the discovery of the case and the details in the probable cause affidavit, per court documents.

It was Feb. 14, 2017, when the bodies of Williams and German were located along the banks of Deer Creek near the Monon High Bridge area, after being dropped off the day before but not returning to their pick-up location.

Five years later, on Oct. 31, 2022, investigators announced they had arrested Allen on two felony counts of murder.

During an interview with police, Allen reportedly stated that he was on the bridge the day the girls went missing, but he did not see them.