Devlin attorneys will request expedited trial in kidnapping case

Monday, July 16, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 5:48 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

POTOSI — Attorneys for Michael Devlin said today they will request an expedited trial in the Shawn Hornbeck kidnapping case, one that they say would begin within six months of the request.

Attorneys Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty appeared briefly in Washington County court, where Judge Kenneth Pratte approved a change of judge. The case was assigned to Judge Sandy Martinez.

Devlin’s attorneys said they also will seek a change of venue — preferably to a larger area with a bigger jury pool — at the next hearing on Aug. 6.

The attorneys said they originally had planned to ask for the expedited trial during today’s hearing but declined because of “developments” in recent days.

They would not elaborate and would not say if those developments included efforts to reach a plea agreement.

Washington County Prosecuting Attorney John Rupp said he has not discussed a plea agreement. “I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about,” he said.

Rupp also questioned whether their request for an expedited trial would ensure one beginning in six months, saying that provision applies to defendants already serving time in a Missouri Department of Corrections facility.

Rupp also said the attorneys may have waited too long to seek a change of venue, saying that request should have been made at the same time they sought a new judge. If that is the case, he may oppose a change of venue, he said.

Devlin, 41, faces charges in three counties and in the federal system for allegedly kidnapping 11-year-old Shawn in 2002 and 13-year-old Ben Ownby this year.

In addition to the charges in Shawn’s kidnapping, he faces charges in Ben’s kidnapping in St. Louis County, where police say both boys were found Jan. 12 in Devlin’s Kirkwood apartment.

He also faces sodomy charges.

The motion for a speedy trial can be filed without a hearing, Kielty said, adding that it would ensure the first case to be heard would be in the kidnapping of Shawn.

Devlin remains jailed in Franklin County, where he is “doing well,” participating in his defense strategy and seeing visitors, Corlija said.

“He knows there’s going to be a day that both sides come out,” Corlija said.

Shawn was 11 when he was kidnapped while riding his bike near his Richwoods home in October 2002. Ben had just gotten off his school bus when he disappeared Jan. 8 near his home in Beaufort.

A classmate spotted a white pickup that led authorities to Devlin’s apartment in suburban St. Louis.

While it is The Associated Press’ policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse in most cases, the story of Shawn and Ben has been widely publicized and their names are now well-known. Also, their families have gone public, conducting several media interviews.

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