Category Archives: Michael Devlin

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:

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


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.”




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


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



Devlin Lands First County Indictment

The Franklin County, Missouri Grand Jury yesterday formally charged Michael J. Devlin with Child Kidnapping and Armed Criminal Action in the abduction of William “Ben” Ownby.

One indictment down, two to go.

Prosecutor Robert Parks had no comments following the hearing, nor did Devlin’s defense team of Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty.  Nor is anyone in the entire world surprised.

Next on the indictment schedule is Washington County, where Devlin will face Kidnapping and Armed Criminal Action in the abduction and terrorism of Shawn Hornbeck.  Devlin will also face 2 kidnapping charges and 69 sodomy charges in St. Louis County, where the two boys were held and attacked.

You can reasonably expect to see soon a setting for Devlin’s trial in Franklin County.

An AP feed to Fox in St. Louis has a tad more on the story here:,2933,255536,00.html



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.