Category Archives: Michael Devlin


Defense attorneys for Missouri’s Michael J. Devlin have been dealt another blow in their attempts to gain access to Grand Jury testimonies, this time from St. Louis County, where Devlin faces charges of child kidnapping of Ben Ownby, kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck, and 69 counts of sodomy of both boys.

As you will recall, the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney filed some 71 total charges against Devlin in his county, because this was the location of the crimes.  Devlin faces additional charges in Franklin County for Ben Ownby’s abduction and in Washington County for the matters surrounding Shawn Hornbeck.  Both of the two latter cases will deal strictly with kidnapping and armed criminal action.

In a hearing yesterday, Judge Colleen Dolan of the St. Louis County Court, denied a motion presented by Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty to provide a transcript of all Grand Jury proceedings held there.  But the court, in concert with Franklin County head Judge Gael Wood and Associate Judge David Tobben, denied the motion and reinforced that only prosecutors may have access to the transcripts.

At least some things are sacrosanct.

Corlija and Kielty stated to the court they wanted the transcripts made so that they could verify the testimonies of witnesses in the likely coming trial of their client against their statements made before the Grand Jury, as well as to protect against prosecutorial misconduct.

Good try gentlemen, you’re doing a good job.  Now the only place left for you to try again is in Washington County where Devlin will be tried for the kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck. 

Methinks the Grand Jury confidentiality will be protected there also.

Read the St. Louis Dispatch story here for further details:

No Grand Jury Transcripts for Devlin

Criminal defense attorneys for Missouri’s Michael J. Devlin will have to endure the same protocol as for all other accused criminals in the state, as the primary judge in Franklin County courts has denied their request to create a transcript of upcoming Grand Jury hearings.

Franklin County Judge Gael D. Wood formally ruled on February 20th with his denial of a defense motion presented by attorneys Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty to create a complete record of all testimony brought before the Grand Jury.

This denial by Judge Wood will end any further attempts by Corlija and Kielty to achieve access to Franklin County Grand Jury proceedings in the matter surrounding their client, Michael J. Devlin, accused of kidnapping Ben Ownby. At present, no additional charges have been filed against Devlin in this jurisdiction, although last week Prosecuting Attorney Robert Parks stated his intent to add a charge of Armed Criminal Action, further alleging that Devlin used a firearm in the kidnapping of the child.

No further hearings are scheduled before this court in the Devlin-Ownby matter before March 15.

However, two days before this next hearing, Devlin is scheduled to appear in Washington County, where Devlin will face charges of Kidnapping and Armed Criminal Action of Shawn Hornbeck. The first hearing in the matter there will begin at 9:00 a.m. on March 13.

No news is yet available as to the date in which the Franklin County Grand Jury is scheduled to begin hearing this case, although the Devlin matter is expected to be heard by the Jury sometime this month. Once all the parties appear before the Grand Jury, all of its findings and testimonies will be sealed and held safely confidential and, by law, cannot be revealed before trial. Nevertheless, should the Grand Jury decide information provided them is substantial enough to issue an indictment against Devlin, you can reasonably expect Prosecutor Parks to release that information fairly darned quickly.

Devlin Defense Still Hitting Roadblocks

Michael J. Devlin will remain in his solitary jail cell directly across from the control room of the Franklin County Jail in Missouri.

In a hearing Thursday morning before Missouri’s Associate Circuit Judge David Tobben, attorneys for Michael J. Devlin were again denied their request to relocate their client to another facility.  In this hearing, defense counsel requested the move based upon their need to be closer to their client and so that Devlin’s family can have easier access, too.  (None have visited Devlin during his incarceration so far.)

Judge Tobben denied the request and further stated that the parties should remember the needs of the Hornbeck and Ownby families.  “Let’s not forget about the victims,” said the Judge.

In their next hearing before Circuit Judge Gael D. Wood, defense counsel argued their motion there to have a complete transcript made of the upcoming Grand Jury hearing into Devlin’s kidnapping of Ben Ownby and make that available to defense counsel in the preparation of their case for trial.  Prosecuting attorney Bob Parks argued against the measure stating that he is the only party to have authorized access to Grand Jury testimonies and to change that, in any way, establishes a precedent that will be to the detrement of the system now and in future cases.  Parks also stated his intention of adding a new charge against Devlin in the Ownby matter, to include armed criminal action in the abduction of the child, but did not say when this formal charge would be made.

Judge Wood will take the arguments under advisement and make a ruling on the Grand Jury transcript access by next Tuesday, February 20.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the complete story here:

Devlin Motions Resume on Thursday

While the last week has been very quiet in the public sector of the criminal case against Michael J. Devlin and his alleged abduction of Ben Ownby in Franklin County, Missouri courts, Thursday promises to provide new information in the aftermath of two hearings scheduled in the matter.


At the last hearing of motions in this case last Wednesday (Feb. 7), Associate Judge David Tobben of the 20th Judicial District Circuit Court in Franklin County, Missouri, refused to hear the defense motion requesting Devlin be transferred to another jail facility.  The judge refused to hear because the defense team had failed to properly notice and provide documents to the prosecuting attorneys.  He gave them a week to comply with court rules and scheduled a hearing for that issue for tomorrow, February 15.


So, tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 9:00 a.m., counsel will again appear before Judge Tobben to discuss the motion and seek a transfer, presumably citing fears for Devlin’s safety in the Franklin County Jail.  I personally don’t expect this motion to see any success, especially since Judge Tobben denied the defense request to have the Franklin County Jail “enforce” its own visitation policy.   In the discussion of that matter, it was clear that jail procedures and policies had been completely followed and it was Devlin himself who agreed to meet with NY Post reporter Susannah Cahalan.  Neither the jail, nor its policies, were at any fault.


Nevertheless, since the motion was rescheduled to be heard on February 15, try again they will.


Later in the morning, Devlin’s attorneys Kielty and Corlija will appear on Devlin’s behalf before Circuit Judge Gael D. Wood to address their request to obtain a transcript of all Grand Jury testimony proceedings to come.  Last week, Judge Tobben cited that his court had no authority to hear this request, since all Grand Juries are convened only through Judge Wood.


I personally doubt this motion will receive any success for the defense either, since Grand Jury proceedings are almost never recorded and their findings result simply in either an indictment or a no bill.  Defense attorneys for individuals going before the Jury are not even allowed inside the room to hear any testimony given.


Nevertheless (again), the hearing on this issue before Judge Wood is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, February 15.


More to come.


In the interim, here is the score on defense motions so far…


DENIED:         Gag order against the NY Post and Cahalan on any future stories.


DENIED:         Motion to suppress any “published or unpublished” information obtained by the NY Post and/or Cahalan from her interview.  (The court did order the paper and the reporter to preserve any notes, etc., in case the courts need them later.)


DENIED:         Motion to enforce the Jail Visitation Policy.


DENIED:         Motion to allow Devlin to appear in court in civilian clothes.


DENIED:         Motion to produce recordings of Grand Jury hearings (this was further redirected to Judge Wood’s court)


Hearings in Washington County, where the case surrounding Shawn Hornbeck is located, will not begin before mid-March.



Judge Says No to Devlin Pre-Trial Motions

The defense team for Michael Devlin were delivered a few strong blows in a hearing on pretrial motions held this morning in the Franklin County, Missouri Courthouse.  In this criminal case against Michael Devlin and concerning the abduction of Ben Ownby, several motions important to the defense received denials and one was passed by the court to be heard next week.


Associate Judge David Tobben of the 20th Judicial District Circuit Court made the following rulings in today’s hearing:


DENIED:         Motion requesting the issuance of a “gag order limited to statements” Susannah Cahalan obtained from Devlin during her two interviews of him in jail.


During a discussion of Cahalan’s “misrepresentation” of herself as a family friend to gain access to Devlin, it was noted that Cahalan did, indeed, identify herself as a NY Post reporter during the second interview.  Therefore, Devlin was clearly aware that she was a reporter.  Of course, he went ahead with the very first interview by Cahalan, even though he had never seen her before and knew she was not a “friend.”  Judge Tobben said that the gag order was unacceptable and would effectively prohibit all news organizations worldwide from publishing any stories that relied upon, in whole or in part, the Cahalan interviews with Devlin as published in the Post.


DENIED:         Motion to suppress any “published or unpublished” information gathered by Cahalan and the NY Post.


Attorneys for Cahalan and the Post informed the court that Cahalan had taken no written notes, nor made any recordings during either of her two interviews with Devlin.   In fact, it was stated that her story written and published in the Post was done entirely from her own memory of the interviews.  Devlin’s defense attorney Michael Kielty claimed during the hearing that some of the details in the Post story were incorrect, although he failed to produce examples of errors to the court.  The court did order Cahalan and the Post to preserve any notes written or recorded after her interview, in the event the court should need them later on.  Judge Tobben further stated his opinion that any suppression of information by Cahalan or the Post was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

DENIED:         Defense Motion to allow Devlin to appear in court in “plain clothes and free of visible restraints” during future court proceedings.


Judge Tobben stated during the hearing that “we see guys in orange here every Thursday morning and I don’t think it creates any problems.”


DENIED:          Defense Motion to request a transcript of all grand jury testimony and proceedings and “all other testimonial proceedings.”.  Judge Tobben noted that the Grand Jury is convened by Circuit Judge Gael Wood and any motion to request a transcript must be filed with that court, as Tobben has not authority in that matter.

For sake of understanding, Grand Jury proceedings are not recorded, as a rule, and not even defense counsel are allowed to join their clients during testimony before it.   Grand Jury indictments also allow a case to skip preliminary hearings and go straight to trial.


The court also refused to hear the Defense Motion to transfer Devlin from the Franklin County jail to another detention facility in St. Louis County, or to another facility outside Franklin County, and revealed that Devlin’s defense team of Kielty and Ethan Corlija had apparently failed to submit an original of this document to prosecutors for their review prior to today’s hearing.  Judge Tobben ordered a new hearing on this motion be scheduled for February 15th to allow the attorneys time to comply with court rules.