Trial moved to late 2024 for Indiana man charged in killings of 2 girls slain during hiking trip

DELPHI, Ind. (AP) — The trial for an Indiana man charged in the killings of two teenage girls slain in 2017 during a hiking trip was moved Tuesday from January to next October after the presiding judge told the suspect she will not allow his former attorneys to represent him.

At Tuesday's hearing, Special Judge Fran Gull officially removed Allen’s former court-appointed defense attorneys, Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin, from the case after they had sought to represent him pro bono, or at no cost.

“I cannot and will not allow these attorneys to represent you,” Gull told Allen during a hearing in Delphi. "I’m sorry that this has happened, Mr. Allen."

Gull had announced before a scheduled Oct. 19 hearing that Baldwin had made an oral motion to withdraw from the case and that she expected Rozzi to submit a motion to withdraw within days amid questions about the security of evidence in the case.

Allen, 51, was arrested in October 2022 and charged with two counts of murder in the 2017 slayings of 13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Liberty German. The Delphi, Indiana, man has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A relative of one of the teenagers dropped them off on Feb. 13, 2017, at a hiking trail near their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis. The teens, known as Abby and Libby, were reported missing that evening after they didn’t show up at a meeting place to be picked up. Their bodies were found the next day in a rugged, heavily wooded area near the trail.

Allen's trial had been scheduled for January, but Gull rescheduled it on Tuesday for Oct. 15-Nov. 1, 2024, after his new attorneys, William S. Lebrato and Robert C. Scremin, said in a filing that “it will be impossible for counsel to be ready for trial in January, 2024.”

Both men were appointed by the court on Friday as Allen's new attorneys.

Last week, Rozzi, one of Allen's former attorneys, filed a motion seeking to disqualify Gull from the case, claiming that she violated a number of rules of judicial conduct. That filing asked that Gull recuse herself and that a new judge be appointed.

On Monday, other attorneys for Allen filed a motion asking the Indiana Supreme Court to review Gull’s decisions in order to seal some documents in the case. The motion also seeks to have Baldwin and Rozzi reinstated as Allen’s attorneys, the Journal & Courier reported.

An Oct. 11 letter from Allen to Gull is included in that filing, and in it Allen tells the judge he wants Baldwin and Rozzi to continue representing him, writing that “I believe they are acting in a manner that is in my best interest.”

Chief Justice Loretta Rush issued an order Monday stating that any briefs opposing those requests must be filed with the high court by Nov. 9. Her order adds: “Once briefing is completed, the Court will take the matter under advisement.”

A gag order issued by Gull in December 2022 bars attorneys, law enforcement officials, court personnel, the coroner and the girls’ family members from commenting on the case to the public or the media in any form including social media.

Prosecutors had sought the order, citing intense public scrutiny and media attention. Gull was brought in as a special judge to oversee the case after a Carroll County judge recused himself.


This story was first published on October 31, 2023. It was updated on November 1, 2023, to correct that a hearing for a man charged in the slayings of two teenage girls was held in Delphi, Indiana, not Fort Wayne, Indiana.