Category Archives: Ben Ownby

Merry Christmas, Michael Devlin

With additional thanks to US District Judge Jean Hamilton, Michael J. Devlin will never, ever see the light of day beyond penitentiary walls for the rest of his life.

In a Federal hearing this morning, Devlin was sentenced to 170 additional years of imprisonment to be served at the conclusion of his current life sentences previously delivered by state courts in October. 

And until Fate delivers Devlin’s final breath, we will celebrate the fact that he will never hurt another child.

Michael J. Devlin was sentenced in October to more consecutive life sentences than he could possibly survive from the multitude of charges handed down in Franklin, Washington and St. Louis counties in Missouri for the abductions and tortures of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby.  Devlin pleaded guilty to every single charge.

Today’s sentencing by Judge Hamilton was far in excess of the standard Federal sentencing guideline of 30 years (duly requested by Devlin’s attorneys), and was exceptionally severe punishment for Devlin’s guilty pleas to various still and video pornography charges and for transporting Hornbeck across multiple state boundaries.

Todd Frankel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a nice recounting of today’s hearing here.

With all cases against Devlin now having reached their conclusions, one can only wonder where Devlin will serve his time.  There is even speculation that Devlin may be given a new identity to protect him during his lifetime ahead of incarceration.

Regardless, it is my fervent hope that Devlin lives a long, long, long life…

Michael Devlin Bouncing About

There hasn’t been much information lately about Missouri’s most notorious alleged child molester, Michael J. Devlin, as many of his court hearings have been passed for a while.  However late last week, Devlin was temporarily transferred to St. Louis County to await his arraignment there on those 71 felony counts (69 forcible sodomy and 2 kidnapping) coming next month.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke facilitated Devlin’s transfer last week, but will have Devlin back in the Franklin County Jail soon after the arraignment is concluded.

The best news in all of this is for Devlin’s legal team, led by  Ethan Corlija, who will have a month to meet with Devlin without having to drive an hour or so each way.

As you may recall, the bulk of the state’s case against Devlin resides in St. Louis County, where one count of kidnapping and the vast majority of the sodomy charges relate to Devlin’s kidnapping and sexual assault of Shawn Hornbeck for over a four-year period.  The remainder of the counts relate to his kidnapping and sexual assault of Ben Ownby.  Both boys were miraculously discovered in Devlin’s clutches four days after Ben was abducted.

The entirety of the Franklin County charges concern Ben’s abduction.  Washington County added charges of attempted murder (for trying to suffocate Shawn in his first month of captivity), kidnapping, armed criminal action, three counts of forcible sodomy, and one count of attempted forcible sodomy relating to Shawn.  There are also six federal charges rounding out the cadre of four jurisdictions involved so far.

No plea agreement has been reached by any authority with Devlin.

The prosecutors in Franklin County have answered Corlija’s request for all the info they had on Devlin (Discovery), and D.A. John Rupp has reciprocated by requesting Corlija send his info also.  Ditto in St. Louis County.

As his current court docket stands, Devlin will appear September 10 in Washington County, where the judge will rule on defense requests for a change in venue, as well as to determine how the jury pool will be selected.  His arraignment in St. Louis County is scheduled for September 19 and will hear several preliminary motions filed there.  And on October 13, Devlin will return to Franklin County, where the judge will hear various defense motions filed there, inclusive of Corlija’s latest request for a change in venue.

And the Feds wait for their turn last at bat when all else in all counties is concluded.  When the dust settles in Missouri, Devlin faces federal charges of producing child pornography and transporting a minor (Hornbeck) across state lines for the purpose of conducting criminal sex acts.

More reading?  See info on Devlin’s transfer to St. Louis County and Toelke’s insistence that Devlin will be returning to Franklin County afterwards, and info about Devlin’s arrival in St. Louis County and the issues anchored there.

For background info, I’ve written previously about Devlin’s case here, here, here, here, and in about 25 other posts, at very least.  Probably the easiest way to find all of them is through wading through this Google Search.

A June Update on Michael Devlin; Corlija Draws Former Client’s Wrath

Nothing has hit the airwaves recently regarding Michael Devlin or any of his cases in Franklin, Washington and St. Louis counties in Missouri.  But I take that as good news, since it means everyone is keeping their mouths shut and getting down to business.

Devlin’s next court appearance will come next week, on Thursday, June 21, when his attorneys file an appearance before their fairly newly appointed judge in Franklin County, The Hon. Stanley Dale Williams.  (I noted the change in judges and a few other minor updates last month.)

The appearance hearing should be fairly quick, but  I imagine Mr. Ethan Corlija will present his Defendant’s Request for Change of Venue and perhaps others.  We’ll see.

Speaking of Mr. Corlija, he has apparently raised the ire of a former client.  In a lengthy post three days ago (June 12th) to RipoffReport, “Lisa” titles her complaint, “Ethan Corlija …lawyer will lie and deceive to take your money, then provide little or no defense Clayton Missouri.” 

As they say, “Hell hath no fury…”

Just in case that page mysteriously disappears, allow me to offer it here, in its entirety, for posterity’s sake:

“…

Ethan B. Corlija of the law offices of Hogan, Sokolik, Corlija And Kielty located in downtown Clayton missouri practices fraudulent and deceptive practices by making false promises regarding criminal defense cases. He will lie about the ‘connections’ he has in the Saint Louis County Court system by name dropping and using his prior employment at the facility as a selling point to attempt to steal your money. DONT BUY INTO THIS!

He was a level 4 prosecutor in Saint Louis County, the lowest in existence. He only worked there for approximately 1.5 years and has no pull with the staff whatsoever. He will accept a small retainer for his services and if, on your date in court, you do not have the remanding balance he will tell you to ‘get it now, or I will go tell the judge I want off your case’.

He will lie to you about your release date/probationary period end date by knowingly incorrectly informing you of the Missouri DOC parole schedule and/or the County Jail’s ‘Good Time’ system.

For instance, he told me that on a 120 day shock sentence that I would be out in 90 days. Untrue, you must do the whole 120 days. He told me on a 3 year backup that I would be paroled in 6 months. Untrue, on an assault charge you must do 33% of your sentence or 1 year at a minimum. He stated before my court date that ‘you aren’t going to jail, I don’t make money by having incarcerated clients’. Untrue, most of his clients are in jail or have had to do some period of incarceration.

If you want a good lawyer you would be well advised to call the offices of RSRG. I had to do so just to have the mess Mr. Corlija got me in cleaned up. It cost me ten’s of thousands to do so.
Lisa
University City, Missouri
U.S.A.

…”

Personally, I think this gal is a Class A spook.  She is obviously enraged that she couldn’t walk away from her “assault charge” and has blamed Corlija in witless detail for having to serve her full sentence, which she clearly understands was mandatory as noted above in her own words.  A lot of attorneys attract the ire of clients when things don’t go as well as the clients hoped.  But most clients are not stupid enough to post such a long and easily identifiable rant as Lisa has done.  Of course, committing an “assault charge” could be fairly strong proof of that, with the disclaimer being I know nothing whatsoever about her case.

If anything she has written is not true, moreover not provable…

Lisa, meet libel per se:  “broadcast or written publication of a false statement about another which accuses him/her of a crime, immoral acts, inability to perform his/her profession, having a loathsome disease (like syphilis) or dishonesty in business.  Such claims are considered so obviously harmful that malice need not be proved to obtain a judgment for “general damages,” and not just specific losses.”   (Emphasis mine.)  Yet malice is obvious in her post.

Mr. Corlija and his team are likely up to their hair follicles in trying to defend Devlin against citations in three Missouri counties and the Feds, as well.  So this one may have escaped his radar, but I doubt it.   I’m sure Lisa’s rant is the least of his concerns right now.

I readily admit I feel for this fellow and his firm.  They landed a business coup with the Devlin case, but unless Devlin has a benefactor, Corlija is expending huge sums in operating capital from his firm and may or may not recoup.  He is up against a fifty-foot wall of tough evidence, tough prosecutors, a set of very tough state statutes, even tougher opposing resources, overwhelming public preconviction of his client, and near insurmountable victimization by Devlin of what will be the two star witnesses at trial in Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby.  Corlija’s only possible strategy is to attempt to discredit overwhelming evidence, while trying to evidence that Devlin is less of a monster than we all believe him to be.  That takes a lot of money…

In my opinion, the trade-off that Corlija, et al, hope for will come in the future if they are able to gain any compromise or (miracle required) somehow manage to reduce Devlin’s legal exposure.  If he can do that, his name (and the tremendously enhanced reputation of his firm) among criminal law circles will be written alongside the greats in history.  After all, thirteen years later, who doesn’t recognize the names, “Johnny Cochran,” “Robert Shapiro,” and (my favorite) “Barry Scheck.  I can personally guarantee you the quip, “Scheck Happens!” is still stated regularly in law firm war rooms.

Personally, every cent of my money is on the cadre’ of multi-jurisdictional prosecutors.  And I wish them God Speed.

What’s New (in May 2007) for Michael Devlin?

With the attorneys all privately preparing for full-scale legal wars, there has been very little to report on Missouri’s Michael Devlin lately…until this week.

 

To summarize:

 

Sometime recently, Mr. Devlin has been moved from solitary confinement and now has a cell mate.  I will leave us all to speculate how well that relationship is going.

 

In response to Devlin counsel’s production request of April 18, a large packet of paperwork (also known as evidence) has been signed off by all four charging jurisdictions (Washington, Franklin and St. Louis counties, and the U.S. Attorney’s office) and has been delivered to Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty.  Business as usual there.

 

The packet contains all information they need to defend their client on the now 86 charges Devlin faces. (The current count cites 71 from St. Louis County, 7 from Washington County, 6 Federal charges and 2 from Franklin County.)  But this information will not include any information relating to ongoing investigations.  Notable among that list is whether Devlin has a connection with the disappearance of other young boys in the reasonable vicinity.

 

For the record the seven Washington County charges are new, having been filed on April 17 following Grand Jury indictments there.  In those counts, Devlin is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, armed criminal action, three counts of forcible sodomy, and one count of attempted forcible sodomy.  In the action filed, Washington County DA John Rupp further described Devlin’s attempt to suffocate Shawn Hornbeck during his first month of captivity.

 

Currently, investigators are probing any possibly connected between Devlin and the following children:

Scott Allen Kleeschulte, who disappeared in 1988 while walking near his home in St. Charles. He was nine years old at the time of his disappearance.

Charles “Arlin” Henderson, who disappeared in 1991 at the age of 11 near his home in rural Lincoln County.

Steven Kraft, who disappeared in 2001 near Michigan, where Devlin often vacationed. Steven was 12 when he disappeared. Investigators are really hot on this case, since they have a variety of evidence linking Devlin to the area around the time of his disappearance…just prior to Devlin’s abduction of Shawn Hornbeck.

Dalton Mesarchik, 7, who disappeared in 2003 in Illinois. His body was found the next day following his abduction near the Vermilion River.

Also, Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks mentioned to press recently that all four jurisdictions are preparing a plea agreement to offer several consecutive life sentences in exchange for Devlin’s guilty plea.  But Corlija scoffed at the notion and exclaimed that he will take Devlin to a jury trial, where he feels his client will have the best chance of success.

And last, but not least, Franklin County Judge Gael Wood has granted Corlija’s petition to step down from the case.  As of May 15, 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court has assigned The Hon. Stanley D. Williams to hear the case to come before him.

 

Next on Devlin’s counsel’s schedule is Devlin’s arraignment before the Washington County Court on May 21 to answer the seven new charges there.  Expect Devlin not to personally attend.

 

Without a single legal hiccup so far, the case is progressing admirably.  More to come…

 

Devlin’s Attorney Enters the Dance

For those of you who don’t understand the dynamics of trial, moreover the “pas de deux” between prosecutors and defenders, allow me to underscore how you should not place any importance whatsoever upon the following:

Ethan Corlija met with AP writer Christopher Leonard today (Thursday) and stated that he is not interested in any plea deal Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks might offer his client, Michael J. Devlin, at this time.

Did you actually believe he would state otherwise?  Come on, folks.  Things are just getting going well in Missouri and we have miles upon miles upon miles to go before the first of Devlin’s three or four trials even begin.

All this means is the Defense has now entered the dance floor.  To wit:

Prosecutor Robert Parks announced Tuesday that he and all the other jurisdictions have been getting together to form a plea agreement that they may soon offer Devlin, and that said agreement would include a stipulation for “several, several life sentences.”  Parks and other prosecutors and the Feds want Devlin put away for the rest of his natural life.  So do we.  Parks also reiterated to reporters that this deal to come has not yet come to pass.  Nothing offered yet, except by insinuation.  Powerful stuff that.

Ethan Corlija may be young and relatively inexperienced, but he is unquestionably a rising star in the criminal defense world and was fairly well regarded (from what I’m told) in St. Louis well before the headache that is Devlin landed on his doorstep.  In short, young Corlija is sharp as a brand new tack, as is his compadre, Michael Kielty.

Per Corlija to Leonard, Park’s heretofore untendered offer (so how exactly would he know what is offered…) would basically be the amount of imprisonment if Devlin were convicted of each and every charge levied against him at the maximum sentencing range. 

“If in Bob Parks’ mind, he thinks that this is a reasonable plea negotiation or a reasonable plea agreement — we would certainly discourage our client from taking it. What’s the advantage?” Corlija said.  If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Corlija took those very words from one of a billion chat room conversations somewhere.

Proof of false brivado:  Corlija stated he believes his chances in “winning some freedoms” for his client are better before a jury.  Maybe, just maybe a jury would return concurrent sentences, instead of the consecutive ones Parks wants.  In Corlija’s perfect world, if Devlin was convicted of say 25 of the 80+ state and federal charges levied against him so far, maybe a kind-hearted jury would let Devlin serve all of them at one time.  Maybe, just maybe, Devlin could be released when he hits 70.

Have I missed some Global Warming threat to the ambient temperature in Hades lately…???

Don’t buy it folks, because even Corlija doesn’t.  But he has to say stuff like that.  It’s his responsibility to do so, even if he believes his client is the most egreggious monster ever to walk among us, which he probably personally does…except for the future profits Devlin will bring his firm and, on that point, Corlija loves him.

This is all part of the legal Pas de Deux.

What does this mean?  Zippo.  Nadda.  Absolutely nothing.  But it will serve as fodder for folks to blog about or argue upon in chat rooms and speculate as to the what-ifs.

Mark my words here:  The evidentiary case alone against Devlin is overwhelming.  I personally doubt there has ever gone before another defandant with as much physical evidence, moreover more damning testimony from victims, than Michael J. Devlin.  I pray we never see another, but doubt that.

Corlija and Kielty are — despite any information they offer to the press to the contrary — between an exceptionally large granite boulder and a huge mile-thick wall of tungsten steel with this case.  After kidnapping an 11-year-old innocent boy and spending the next four-and-a-half years sodomizing him, then getting bored, kidnapping another and sodomizing him for the next four days, their client has achieved the international infamy reserved heretofore for monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer.  Unlike Dahmer, both of Devlin’s victims are alive and well.  Even Shawn is slowly adjusting and reacquainting himself with a safe, happy life.  Far from merely surviving his captivity, this young fellow has further found amazing strength in most willingly giving investigators incredible evidence against Devlin. 

This case is, without exaggeration, a prosecutor’s wildest dream come true.

While the maternal and paternal instincts in all of us wants Shawn Hornbeck to be able to avoid having to testify, I have no doubt whatsoever that he is more than willing  do so.  He’s not eleven any more.  And I bet he resents the loss of his intended life over the last four years more than all of us put together.

So, while Corlija and Kielty dangle the threat of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby having to testify, while they play media hardball with prosecutors, clearly understand that the greatest threat of all to their client IS Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby testifying before a jury.

And for those who might wonder why Devlin would ever agree to a plea agreement, allow me to add this:  Devlin is a 300-pound sociopath who is terrified of adult relationships and gets his kicks out of terrorizing and hurting children.  He will never, ever want to appear at a trial before his adult peers, whom he knows not only want to crucify him but have more evidence and compelling testimony than ever before to do so.  Devlin just wants to crawl into a hole and forget this ever happened.  Heck, he probably would rather roll back time to a year ago, when life was good…

Corlija and Kielty are well aware of this, but they have quite a bit of time to play their position up in the press.  But when the dust settles, these two sharp attorneys will finally admit (by their actions in garnering their client’s acceptance to a plea agreement) that their client’s best deal possible lay with the deal itself and certainly not with a jury.

For a little light reading, Christopher Leonard’s story is here:

http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/breaking_news/16861392.htm

Update 3/9/07:

This short article in the Missourian underscores my points.  Robert Parks is  confused with Corlija’s response refusing a plea deal that has not even been tendered…

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18061603&BRD=1409&PAG=461&dept_id=33071&rfi=6

Devlin May See Combined Plea Offer Soon

Michael J. Devlin may soon be offered a plea agreement that will ensure his imprisonment for the rest of his life, according to Franklin County, Missouri Prosecutor Robert Parks today. 

Parks made this statement following Devlin’s second arraignment in Franklin County this morning, this time to enter his plea in answer to the Grand Jury’s indictment of him last week for the armed kidnapping of William “Ben” Ownby.

Parks has been meeting with all jurisdictions, including Washington and St. Louis Counties and the US Attorney’s office, and they have arrived at a preliminary offer to be made to Devlin through his attorneys, Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty.

At my best calculations, Devlin faces more than 200 years in conservative sentencings for all of the county and federal charges against him and the evidence collected against him is as rock-solid as I have ever seen.  And I’m willing to bet Devlin would probably rather do anything else on this Earth than to face the trials ahead of him.  One way or another, Devlin will be behind bars until he dies, and he bloody well knows it.  Only through a plea agreement is it even remotely possible for him to have any control over which penitentiary houses him, or the circumstances of same.

The end result of a plea agreement bodes nothing but good for all the other parties involved in this nightmare and will allow them to actually return to normal life (whatever that is now) much more quickly. 

To wit:

Shawn Hornbeck would not be forced to endure the tremendous humiliation of a trial that would absolutely require every tiny detail of his life since the age of eleven be scrutinized.  Hornbeck would have to testify, in excruciating detail, about and relive his capture, the numerous ordeals of sexual assaults, the creation of pornographic materials, to attending a formal dance mere weeks before his discovery, etc., ad nauseum.

Regardless that we all believe Devlin to be guilty, it is absolutely incumbent upon Devlin’s counsel to diminish the importance of Hornbeck as a witness.  It is highly unlikely that they ever could, but that opinion could only be formed after they had tried with all their legalese and might…throughout which Hornbeck would live a public nightmare.

Ben Ownby would also not be forced to endure similar, albeit much lesser a degree of scrutiny at trial.  But the comparative shortness of his captivity against Hornbecks would not spare him humiliation or pain either.

And, of course, Missouri and federal taxpayers will reap an enormous windfall of savings by Devlin passing “GO” and going straight to jail.

Will it happen?  Absolutely.  Devlin’s attorneys have no other viable option.  Through their youth, they may well try and play hardball with the prosecutors, but it won’t go far at all.  I reasonably expect Devlin’s counsel to announce a negotiated plea agreement before May 15th, which is the date Franklin County has just set to determine if the parties are prepared for trial there to begin.

No findings have yet been released from the Washington County Grand Jury where charges against Devlin relate to Shawn Hornbeck. But Devlin will face a similar second arraignment there if the Jury returns a true bill as expected.

Also yet to report is the St. Louis County Grand Jury, through which prosecutors seek an indictment of 71 total charges against Devlin, including kidnapping, child kidnapping, and 69 counts of sodomy. 

Even the Feds have brought a six-count indictment late last week for the creation of pornograpny by Devlin, using Hornbeck as the subject, moreover the transport of Shawn over state lines so that he could continue to sexually assault him there.

Read all about Park’s intent to offer a plea agreement here:

http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/state/16845204.htm

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Devlin’s Not Guilty Plea here:

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/laworder/story/EB05AB1600CDD8D5862572960062374D?OpenDocument

Feds Indict Devlin on Child Porn & Sex Charges

Michael J. Devlin was indicted by a federal Grand Jury yesterday on four felony counts of producing child pornography, and two felony counts of transportation of a minor for criminal sex acts.

 

All of these six new federal charges are strictly related to Devlin’s torture of Shawn Hornbeck during the four and a half years Devlin held him captive.

 

In the indictment, Devlin is accused of taking an untold number of still Poloroid photographs, creating VHS videotapes, and creating even more videos on digital mini-format of a minor identified on each as “S”.  The indictment further accuses Devlin of having created these pictures and videos in at least two states.  These pictures and videotapes were all recovered from Devlin’s apartment in Kirkwood, Missouri.

 

US Attorney Catherine Hanaway of the Eastern District of Missouri announced the new indictments of Devlin yesterday, and in their aftermath, I am even more amazed at Hornbeck’s strength and courage to have survived the last third of his young life.

 

According to the press release following the Grand Jury findings, the indictments are the result of joint collaboration by federal, state and local investigators, who will “continue to work with state prosecutors to ensure that Mr. Devlin spends the rest of his life in prison,” said Ms. Hanaway.

 

The actual charges in this federal indictment are as follows:

 

The indictment in Count 1 alleges that Devlin “photographed a minor engaging in sexually-explicit conduct” between October 2002 and July 2003.

 

Counts 2, 3 and 4 of the indictment charges Devlin with having “videotaped a minor engaged in sexually-explicit conduct” between July 2003 and January 2007.

 

Count 5 alleges that “Devlin took a minor to the State of Illinois in February 2004, with the intent to engage in Criminal Sexual Assault, a violation of Illinois Law.”

 

Count 6, the final count in the indictment, alleges that “Devlin took a minor to the State of Arizona between June 20 and July 3, 2004, with the intent to engage in Sexual Assault, a violation of Arizona law.”

 

You may recall, with regard to the last count, that Devlin traveled in 2004 to Prescott, Arizona to attend the wedding of his brother.  Devlin was the only member of his family not to fly and further would not stay in the same hotel as the other wedding guests.  It was strongly speculated and believed that Devlin kept Shawn hidden in his motel room during the event and drove to remain separate from his family, as well.

 

This new federal indictment adds to the long list of charges filed against Devlin by three separate counties in Missouri for the abductions and torture of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby.  Earlier this week, the Franklin County Grand Jury returned an indictment of child kidnapping and armed criminal action against Devlin in the matter of Ben Ownby, allowing that case to now go to trial.

 

Grand Juries in  Washington County (where Devlin faces simple kidnapping, torture and armed criminal action in the abduction of Shawn Hornbeck) and in St. Louis County (where 71 charges of kidnapping and sodomy of both Hornbeck and Ownby are filed) have yet to report their findings, but which are expected soon.

 

Ms. Hanaway, by the way, was a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives and served as its Speaker.  She joined the US Attorney’s office in April of last year, with attacking child pornography and exploitation as one of her five top priorities.  In addition to the Devlin case, she has receive two guilty pleas (just yesterday) and one conviction (last month) of three other men indicted in her jurisdiction on charges of crimes against children.

 

Regarding the charges against Devlin, Hanaway said yesterday that details of this case had “sickened” her.  “I am sickened by the fact that this minor had their life changed forever,” she said.

 

Per Ms. Hanaway, “This is by far the worst thing that we’ve ever seen.”

 

Amen.

 

The actual indictment can be viewed, in its entirety, here:

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/moe/files/significant_cases/devlin_indictment.pdf.

 

And our pals at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have filed their story of the indictment here:

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/9F7AD23E45A9B1C886257292000C28B8?OpenDocument