Judge Refuses to Suppress ‘NY Post’ Interview With Accused Kidnapper


A Franklin County judge on Tuesday refused to suppress an interview accused kidnapper Michael Devlin granted to a woman working for the New York Post, saying doing so would violate the Constitution.

Franklin County Associate Circuit Judge David Tobben also refused to hear a request by Devlin’s attorneys to move Devlin to the St. Louis County Jail from Franklin County.

Tobben said attorneys Ethan Corlija and Michael Kielty failed to turn in original documents of their request, instead relying on faxed copies. He rescheduled a hearing on that motion for Feb. 15.

Tobben also turned down the request by Devlin’s attorneys to allow the suspect to attend court hearings in street clothes and without shackles. The attorneys are concerned that Devlin’s appearance in jail-issued orange clothing prejudices the case against him.

The judge disagreed.

“We see guys in orange here every Thursday morning and I don’t think it creates any problems,” Tobben said.

Devlin, 41, now faces charges in three Missouri counties for abducting and sexually abusing two boys. Shawn Hornbeck was 11 when he was abducted in October 2002 from near his home in the Washington County town Richwoods. Ben Ownby, 13, was taken Jan. 8 after getting off a school bus near his home in the Franklin County town Beaufort.

Police traced a white pickup seen speeding away from Ben’s abduction to Devlin. Officers on Jan. 12 found both boys at Devlin’s apartment in Kirkwood. Kidnapping charges were filed in Franklin and Washington counties. And on Monday, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch filed 71 counts against Devlin ? two for kidnapping, the rest for forcible sodomy.

Devlin has pleaded not guilty in Franklin and Washington counties. He has not yet been arraigned on the St. Louis County charges.

Since his arrest, Devlin has been at the Franklin County jail on $1 million bond. Corlija and Kielty have cited security concerns in asking that he be moved to St. Louis County.

They were particularly upset last month when Susannah Cahalan, a Washington University student working for the New York Post, was able to get an interview with Devlin inside the jail.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Cahalan declined an interview request.

Cahalan interviewed Devlin Jan. 19 and Jan. 20. Sheriff Gary Toelke said she signed in as a friend of Devlin’s. The sheriff said Devlin saw her before the first interview, did not recognize her, but still agreed to meet with her both days.

Kielty said the reporter lied to Devlin, saying she was a university student who was interested in the case, rather than a reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper. But Cahalan’s attorney, Slade Metcalf, said she did identify herself as a Post reporter during the second interview.

Toelke said an inmate can accept or decline media requests, and in this case, Devlin accepted.

Metcalf told Tobben that Cahalan did not record the interview or take any notes while speaking to Devlin. She relied on memory after the interview to write up a memo of the suspect’s remarks, Metcalf said.

Tobben said those notes written after the interview would be preserved in case the court needs them.

Devlin’s attorneys had sought to ban Cahalan from publishing any additional stories based on her interview with him. Tobben said a gag order was unacceptable because it would effectively bar every news organization in the world from publishing stories based on the interview.

In the jailhouse interview, Devlin refused to discuss the allegations against him. He said that around 2002 he began to lose contact with close friends.

“I guess you could say I was lonely. All my friends starting getting married and having kids,” he said. He also told Cahalan he was “never really interested in” romantic relationships but wouldn’t say whether he was attracted to women.

“I can’t talk about that because it has to do with the case,” he said.

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