Large Indiana county for jury selection in slain teens trial

FILE – A makeshift memorial to Liberty German and Abigail Williams near where they were last seen and where the bodies were discovered stands along the Monon Trail leading to the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi, Ind., Oct. 31, 2022. Jurors for the trial of Richard Matthew Allen, an Indiana man accused of killing the two teenage girls, will be brought from Allen County, which includes the city of Fort Wayne, a judge in the case decided Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

A jury for the trial of an Indiana man accused of killing two teenage girls nearly six years ago will be selected from a northern Indiana county of over 300,000 people, online court filings on Tuesday showed.

Jurors will be picked out of Allen County, which includes the city of Fort Wayne, and later this year will hear a case regarding Richard Matthew Allen, 50, who was charged in October with two counts of murder in the 2017 killings of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13.

Allen lived and worked in Delphi, the girls’ hometown of about 3,000 people, which is part of Carroll County. Delphi is located around 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis. Allen County, just over 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Carroll County, has more than 388,000 residents.

Judge Fran Gull, also from Allen County, was assigned to the case after the judge for Carroll County recused himself last year.

At a hearing earlier this month, Allen’s lawyers and the county prosecutor agreed the jury should come from a different location after defense attorneys in November requested the trial location be moved from Carroll County because of intense public scrutiny and media attention surrounding the case.

Gull said in the hearing that the trial should be conducted in Carroll County because friends and family members of the parties are situated in Delphi but that a jury should be selected elsewhere. Drawing from a county larger than Carroll County, which has about 20,000 residents, would be a benefit to assembling an impartial jury pool, Allen’s lawyers argued.

When the trial occurs, those jurors will be transported from Allen County to Carroll County for the proceedings, which are scheduled for March but unlikely to occur before the fall, Gull said at the hearing.

A bail hearing for Allen is scheduled for Feb. 17.

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Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers

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