Delphi defense turns to crowdfunding to pay for expert witnesses

Posted at 8:01 AM, March 26, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (Court TV) — The defense team of the man accused of killing two teenage girls in Delphi, Indiana, has turned to crowdfunding to cover the costs of expert witnesses, sources confirmed with Court TV.

richard allen mugshot

This image provided by Indiana State Police shows Richard Matthew Allen.  (Indiana State Police via AP)

Richard Allen is charged with the murders of two eighth graders, who disappeared Feb. 13, 2017, while walking the Delphi Historic Trails. Their bodies were found the following day, a quarter mile from where they were last seen on the Monon High Bridge.

Allen, a married father who worked at the local CVS, was never named a suspect until his arrest more than five years later. He told officials he’d been on the trails the day the girls went missing but was not looked into until 2022. Since then, Allen’s legal battle has been long and contentious, not to mention costly.

David R. Hennessy, the attorney representing Allen’s defense attorneys, Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin, in the contempt case against them, confirmed that he had organized an online fundraiser seeking $25K to pay for Allen’s expert witnesses after learning that the prosecution added experts to their witness list and that Judge Frances Gull would not approve funds for defense experts.

Although relatively new, litigation crowdfunding has become increasingly popular due to escalating trial costs. Fundraising sites, such as CrowdJustice and LexShares, target law firms, companies, and individuals pursuing legal cases. Arguably one of the most popular crowdfunding sites, GoFundMe, touts itself as one of the top 3 ways to pay for a lawyer.

In a letter sent to Court TV, Hennessy stated that the judge’s denial of defense expert funding has created a “one-sided fight and a disadvantaged defense.” Hennessy further specified that none of the money raised would go to Allen or the defense attorneys, only to the experts to “even things up.”

The fundraising site includes a short description of Allen, which states he became a licensed pharmacy technician in 2018. “Richard has been wrongfully accused of Abby and Libby’s murders, but is investing everything he has to fight for his freedom and for justice for both victims of this heinous crime,” the site states, along with a note that donations are not tax deductible.

READ MORE | Delphi Murders: Where does the case stand 7 years later?

To date, the fundraiser has raised $2,255 from 62 anonymous donors.

Judge Gull heard several motions at a two-day pre-trial hearing last week, including the defense and prosecution claims over evidence leaks. While Judge Gull has taken the contempt claims under advisement, she granted Allen’s previous motion for a speedy trial, kickstarting a 70-day clock ahead of a new trial date of May 13.