ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. — Two attorneys have been appointed to defend Richard Allen on two counts of murder in the killings of Abby Williams and Libby German outside of Delphi in 2017.
On Friday, the Carroll County court system appointed Attorney Robert Scremin and Attorney William S. Lebrato as contract public defenders in Allen’s case.
Both Scremin and Lebrato are defense attorneys based in the Fort Wayne/Allen County area, the same county the trial jury will be selected from and where a previous hearing in the case was held.
Past case developments
Allen, who is charged with two counts of murder in the February 2017 deaths of Williams and German near the Monon High Bridge in Delphi, had his previous defense team removed from the case earlier this week which has thrown the highly-publicized trial into disarray.
Starting in November 2022 and up until this week, Allen had been represented by Franklin-based lawyer Andrew Baldwin and Logansport attorney Bradley Rozzi as co-counsel in the case.
The suspect and defense team were scheduled to make an appearance last week, but Allen, Rozzi and Baldwin were not present when Special Judge Fran Gull began proceedings in what she called an “unexpected turn of events.” The judge then announced both lawyers were withdrawing from the case.
However, a week later Rozzi filed a motion claiming Judge Gull “ambushed” the defense team by forcing Baldwin’s resignation and ordering Rozzi to do the same. He also requested on Thursday that the special-appointed judge be removed, creating a “mess” out of the high-profile trial.
Then, on Friday morning, Judge Gull promptly threw out the filing made by Rozzi the day before.
In her decision to strike Rozzi’s motion from the record, Gull said that the lawyer had already withdrawn from the Delphi case on Oct. 19 and therefore was no longer the legal counsel of record for Allen.
The clerk was then ordered to remove Rozzi’s filing calling for the removal of Gull from the recordbooks and note that it was filed in error since Rozzi is no longer considered legally a part of the case due to being removed prior to him filing the motion on Oct. 25.
On Friday afternoon, an attorney representing Allen’s original defense team of Baldwin and Rozzi provided an advanced copy of a motion challenging Gull’s decision. For more on that, click here.
Now, as of Friday afternoon, new representation has been appointed to defend Allen in the form of Robert Scremin and William Lebrato.
In the order from Gull assigning Lebrato and Scremin to the case, the judge wrote that Allen remains entitled to court-appointed counsel. Later on Friday evening, both attorneys filed a notice of appearance as a Public Defender on Allen’s behalf.
According to our news partner WANE15, Lebrato is the chief public defender in Allen County. In 2022, WANE reported that Lebrato was suspended for two-three weeks in February for an unknown reason. He was later reinstated under condition he “refrain from any retaliation.”
According to Scremin’s website, the Fort Wayne-based lawyer has 24 years of experience in criminal defense trial law. His listed experiences include work as a former deputy prosecutor and SWAT/narcotics detective.
Cameras denied in next hearing
Last Thursday’s hearing marked the first time in the case that cameras were allowed in the courtroom, and one of the first times cameras have been allowed in any Indiana court since a new law passed.
While media outlets were not allowed to livestream the hearing, the proceedings were allowed to be shown on a 30-minute delay. At the time, Judge Gull had not decided whether cameras would be allowed in the trial room.
While Gull has still not made a decision on all future court proceedings, the court on Friday did deny all requests from media to film at the next scheduled hearing on Oct. 31. This, the court said, was due to “unauthorized filming and broadcasting of pre-hearing activities” last week.
Decorum order for Oct. 31
In addition to identifying Allen’s new counsel and denying camera access for next Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Gull also issued a decorum order for the upcoming proceedings.
Gull said the order, which can be read in full below and includes several guidelines for court attendees, was issued in part due to the “substantial public interest and media attention” that this case has generated.
Some main takeaways from the decorum guidelines include:
- The courthouse will open at 8 a.m.
- All members of the public, including media, will be subject to metal detectors
- Cell phones are permitted but must be turned off and unused
- No one will be permitted to stand in the courtroom
Read the full decorum order issued Friday below:
Judge Fran Gull
The upcoming hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31 in Carroll Circuit Court.