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Delphi murders: Man charged over leak of graphic crime scene photos

Mitchell Westerman is a friend and former coworker of one of the attorneys who was defending accused killer Richard Allen

Rachel Sharp
Friday 24 November 2023 18:18 GMT
Delphi murders case: Richard Allen seeks dismissal of ballistics evidence, court hearing Wednesday

A man has been arrested over the leak of graphic crime scene photos taken from the wooded trail where teenage best friends Libby German and Abby Williams were brutally murdered.

In what marks the latest twist in tragic Delphi murders case, 41-year-old Mitchell Westerman, of Westfield, Indiana, was taken into custody this week and charged with one count of conversion.

Mr Westerman is a friend and former coworker of Andrew Baldwin, one of the two attorneys who was representing accused killer Richard Allen up until last month when they dramatically quit over the leaked photo scandal.

Court documents reveal that Mr Westerman – who used to work in Mr Baldwin’s law firm but was no longer employed at the time of the leak and never worked on the Delphi murders case – confessed to being behind the leak.

The 41-year-old told law enforcement that he would often stop by Mr Baldwin’s office for a visit and, during one visit, he came across a trove of evidence from the high-profile case spread out in the conference room.

Among the documents lay the graphic crime scene photots.

While alone in the room, Mr Westerman said he took photos of the pictures on his cellphone and sent them onto another man, the court documents state.

That individual, from Fishers, then shared the images further to a man in Texas, who sent them to several YouTubers and podcasters and shared the images online.

The leak came to light in early October when The Murder Sheet podcasters – journalist Áine Cain and attorney Kevin Greenlee – received the images from a source and notified law enforcement.

“We were very disturbed by what we saw,” Ms Cain told The Independent in an interview at the time.

“The discovery is under a protective order by the court so that it can’t be leaked or disseminated in any way. So it’s not only disturbing to see these images but it’s disturbing in terms of what it means for the case.”

Mitchell Westerman pictured in mug shot (Johnson County)

The individual from Fishers died by suicide after a police investigation into the leak was launched.

According to court documents, Mr Westerman admitted to Mr Baldwin on 9 October that he was the source of the leak.

In an affidavit, he also admitted that neither Mr Baldwin nor Mr Allen’s other attorney Brad Rozzi had given him permission to take photos of the sensitive evidence in the case or share it with others.

Mr Baldwin has described his friend’s actions as a “betrayal”.

Despite Mr Westerman’s confession, the leak derailed the high-profile murder case – leading to Mr Allen’s attorneys being removed from the case and his trial being delayed by almost another year.

A court hearing was arranged by Judge Fran Gull for 19 October to address the leak but – before the hearing could go ahead – Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi both told the court that they were quitting the case.

“We’ve had an unexpected turn of events, ladies and gentlemen,” said Judge Gull at the start of the hearing.

“Earlier this afternoon, the defence attorneys have withdrawn their representation of Mr Allen.”

Libby German (left) and Abby Williams (right) pictured together (Facebook)

Mr Baldwin made an oral motion to withdraw from the case, while Mr Rozzi later submitted a written motion to withdraw.

While the two attorneys voluntarily withdrew from the case, they have since claimed that the judge “coerced” them to quit in what they described as a “pre-meditated ambush” – and are calling for her to be removed from the case.

In a dramatic move, the pair also filed a motion offering to work for free on Mr Allen’s case, saying that they would represent him pro bono if they were barred from working as his public defenders.

Mr Allen also sent a letter to the court asking that the attorneys be allowed to stay on his case.

Judge Gull ruled against it and pushed back the trial of Mr Allen – the local Delphi man accused of the 2017 killings of Libby and Abby – from 24 January 2024 to 15 October 2024, so his new attorneys can get up to speed with the wealth of evidence.

Mr Rozzi and Mr Baldwin continue to fight the judge’s rulings and have since taken their request to the Indiana Supreme Court, asking it to intervene in the high-profile case and reinstate them as Mr Allen’s legal team.

Richard Allen in mug shot (Indiana State Police)

This marks the latest twist in the tragic case which left the teenage victims’ families desperately searching for answers for years before an arrest was finally made in October 2022.

It began back on 13 February 2017 when Libby and Abby set off on a walk along the Monon High Bridge in their hometown of Delphi.

During the walk, Libby posted a photo of her best friend on Snapchat as they walked along the Monon High Bridge.

Minutes later, Libby captured a video of a man – known as “bridge guy” – dressed in blue jeans, a blue jacket and a cap walking along the abandoned railroad bridge.

In the footage – found on Libby’s phone following their murders – the man tells the two girls: “Guys, down the hill.”

Later that day, the teenagers were reported missing when they failed to return to a spot where a family member was picking them up.

The next day – Valentine’s Day 2017 – their bodies were discovered in a wooded area less than half a mile off the trail along the side of Deer Creek.

Flowers are placed at the Monon High Bridge Trail in Delphi (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In October 2022 – over five years later – Mr Allen was arrested and charged with their murders.

Following his arrest, the case has continued to be fraught with controversies.

Mr Allen’s former attorneys have repeatedly claimed that the suspect is being treated poorly as he is held behind bars in a state correctional facility.

Since his arrest, Mr Allen has confessed to the 2017 murders multiple times – including in a jailhouse phone call with his wife, dramatic court documents revealed back in June.

While prosecutors say that the accused killer admitted “several times” that he carried out the brutal murders, Mr Allen’s attorneys claim that his confession cannot be believed due to his current mental state.

Meanwhile, in another twist, the legal team made the bombshell claim in September that Libby and Abby were killed – not by the suspect – but as part of a “ritualistic sacrifice” at the hands of a white nationalist cult called Odinists.

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