Delphi judge: Defense not held in contempt for evidence leak

May 1—DELPHI — Despite what she called "sloppy, negligent and incompetent" handling of discovery materials, the judge presiding over the Delphi case ruled Wednesday that defense attorneys Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin will not be held in contempt for a suspected evidence leak that occurred last fall.

It was Feb. 14, 2017, when the bodies of 14-year-old Libby German and 13-year-old Abby Williams 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, Richard Allen reportedly stated he was on the bridge the day the girls went missing, but he did not see them.

In October 2023, Judge Frances Gull — who is presiding over the case against Allen — officially disqualified Rozzi and Baldwin for their alleged connection to the leak of crime scene photos that eventually landed in the hands of members of the media.

This move prompted Rozzi and Baldwin to take their pleas to the Indiana Supreme Court earlier this year in hopes of being reinstated.

The justices eventually agreed with them, too, ultimately allowing the pair back on the case.

But then Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland filed a motion against Rozzi and Baldwin for what he deemed "contemptuous behavior," citing an "ongoing leak" of information from the defense team to individuals not associated with the case.

One of those individuals is a Westfield man named Mitchell Westerman, who is currently facing a misdemeanor charge of conversion for his alleged connection to the case.

According to police reports, Westerman reportedly took photographs last October of crime scene photos that were lying on a conference room table at Baldwin's law office.

He then allegedly distributed those photographs to another individual, court records indicate.

Back in March, Rozzi and Baldwin — represented at the time by Indianapolis-based attorney David Hennessy — and McLeland addressed the alleged ongoing evidence leak during a hearing held inside Allen County Superior Court.

During that hearing, the prosecution brought forth several witnesses and pieces of evidence in support of their claim of ongoing "contemptuous behavior" by the defense, including several law enforcement officers and members of the media.

But it wasn't enough for McLeland to show there was possible contemptuous behavior, Gull wrote in her Wednesday ruling.

He had to show the defense meant to do it.

"The state is required to prove that counsels' (Rozzi and Baldwin) conduct was willful and intentional beyond a reasonable doubt for the court to find counsel in contempt," Gull wrote. "As the state has not met that burden, the court declines to find them (defense) in contempt of court."

In her ruling, Gull also addressed a press release that was issued by the defense on Dec. 1, 2023, which Rozzi and Baldwin have previously claimed occurred before a gag order in the case was enacted.

Again, Gull sided with the defense's claim.

"As defense counsels' counsel (Hennessy) correctly argues in his post-hearing brief, the gag order was not yet issued," Gull wrote, adding that the press release took effect Dec. 2, 2023. "As such, the court declines to find counsel (defense) in contempt of court as no order was in place."

Gull went on to state that because the gag order was not yet set when Rozzi and Baldwin sent out their Dec. 1 press release, the court essentially had no jurisdiction to enforce its rules.

But while Gull seemed to side with the defense Wednesday, her ruling did specify a copy of the order and the press release will be sent to the Office of Judicial and Attorney Regulation, which the judge said will "enforce" or "determine" whether Rozzi and Baldwin acted with "ethical misconduct."

Allen is next due back in court at 9 a.m. May 7 inside Allen County Superior Court.

Court officials say that pretrial conference is to discuss Allen's upcoming trial, which is currently slated to begin May 13.