DELPHI, Ind. ― Accused Delphi murderer Richard Allen’s Tuesday morning hearing is set with two new motions filed late Monday afternoon.
Media outlets across the state filed a brief spelling out why they believe Richard Allen’s charging documents and probable cause should be unsealed.
Indiana State Police announced Oct. 31 that Allen, 50, of Delphi, was detained Oct. 26, arrested and charged Oct. 28 with murder for the killings of Libby German and Abby Williams on Feb. 13, 2017.
No one in the public, however, has seen any court documents to substantiate the state police allegations. Additionally, state law requires the name, age, address, charges and factual circumstances of an arrest to be made public within 24 hours of an arrest.
Indiana State Police took five days from the time of Allen’s detention before they publicly confirmed he was in custody and his charges —.two counts of murder. The Journal & Courier filed a complaint with the Indiana Public Access Counselor earlier this month about the withholding of Allen’s arrest.
Meanwhile, Richard Allen’s attorney filed a motion Monday arguing that Allen should be released on his own recognizance or have bond set.
“…(B)ecause neither the proof of guilt is evident, nor the presumption of guilt is strong, the accused is seeking a hearing to release the accused on his own recognizance or in the alternative, to set a reasonable bail.”
In Indiana, all defendants are entitled to a reasonable bail that is high enough to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court, according to Indiana law.
The only exception for entitlement to bond is murder and treason. Typically most defendants charged with murder do not receive bond. However, bond may be granted if the case does not appear to lean favorably to the the state’s case, according to Indiana law.
Since no one in the public has seen the probable cause affidavit, no one can assess whether the allegations against Allen are strong.
The public release of the affidavit is summed up in a brief filed with the court on behalf of media outlets throughout the state, including Gannett, which is the Journal & Courier’s parent company, Hoosier State Press Association, the Associated Press, Scripps Co., as well as television news outlets, including the Indiana Broadcasters Association.
In the brief, the attorneys for the news outlets cite a Nebraska case, arguing, “Secrecy of judicial action can only breed ignorance and distrust of courts and suspicion concerning the competence and impartiality of judges” and “free and robust reporting, criticism and debate can … subject (the criminal justice system) to the cleansing efforts of exposur and public accountability.
“Accountability, in turn, promote public trust, which is key to democratic society.”
The media’s brief also states, “The history leading to the Defendant’s arrest, coupled with the nature of the underlying alleged crimes … underscores the need for transparency.”
The brief notes that the years-long investigation suddenly and unexpectedly results in an arrest, but there is no transparency to sway the public from thinking it might be an arrest of convenience.
“To the extent there is a concern that the defendant’s arrest was an unwarranted effort to satisfy public demand, making the charging records available to the public will promote continued accountability and public trust in the process. The public has a right to answers.”
Special Judge Frances Gull of Allen County was appointed to preside over the case. She will hear the arguments on Tuesday for and against unsealing the charging documents and the probable cause.
Gull might unseal the documents on Tuesday. She also might take the matter under advisement and issue an order later in the week or in the coming weeks.
The Journal & Courier will attend Tuesday’s hearing and will report on the events inside the courtroom Tuesday morning.
Reach Ron Wilkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.