Attorneys for the man accused of killing two Delphi, Indiana, teenage girls in 2017 say police “recorded over” interviews with key witnesses that took place just days after the teens were murdered.
Richard Allen’s attorneys, Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozzi, filed a motion this week accusing police of “destroying exculpatory evidence,” Law & Crime reported. The attorneys were referring to the recordings, which were not able to be turned over to the defense ahead of Allen’s trial.
The interviews in question occurred on February 17 and February 19, 2017. The girls’ bodies were found on February 13 of the same year.
Authorities did provide defense attorneys with memorialized summaries of the interviews, but Baldwin and Rozzi wanted the recordings so they could “listen to the exact spoken words” of the two men who were interviewed, “particularly the statements that the author of the document admits were not memorialized in the document.”
In September, however, the prosecution told the attorneys that it didn’t have recordings and “offered no explanations as to why these didn’t exist,” the defense attorneys argued in the motion, reviewed by Law & Crime.
Shortly after, the attorneys say in the motion, prosecutors tried to have the attorneys removed. Special Judge Fran Gull then forced them to withdraw, but they were reinstated last month. Once reinstated, the attorneys said that prosecutors admitted that the recordings had been accidentally destroyed.
“Due to a DVR program error discovered on 9-20-2017 all recordings up to February 20th. 2017, were recorded over,” prosecutors wrote in a letter describing discovery evidence provided to Allen’s defense. “There is no detectible audio found on this drive.”
Allen’s attorneys plan on presenting evidence that points to other suspects in the murders of 13-year-old Abby Williams and 14-year-old Libby German, and argued in the motion that those recordings would have played a role. They further argued that failing to maintain that evidence violates Allen’s due process rights, Law & Crime reported.
“The videotaped interviews were deleted by the police. It is unknown what other interviews were deleted during the relevant time frames,” Allen’s attorneys wrote in the motion. “The destruction of material interviews of key suspects, early in the investigation, demonstrates negligence, if not intentional conduct on the part of the State. How could law enforcement, while investigating the most serious of crimes, record over interviews of material suspects with recklessness or intentionality?”
Without the recordings, it may be more difficult for Allen’s attorneys to point out “inconsistencies or raise questions about other witnesses or other information relevant to an unbiased investigation.”
In one example provided by the defense attorneys, one of the men interviewed in 2017 said he had “never met” Abby Williams, but six years later, he told investigators that he “barely even knew” her and had “met her once.”
“It is therefore plausible that many more contradictions would be available to the defense but for the State’s intentional or negligent failure to preserve all of the evidence,” the defense attorneys wrote. “Such negligent and intentional conduct on the part of the police has also resulted in the absence of material evidence which could be exculpatory in nature.”
Last month, Allen was hit with additional charges of murder and kidnapping.