Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Deal in Works for Alleged Mo. Kidnapper

This is the latest update on the case against the man accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby:

Federal and local prosecutors are considering a plea deal that would mean life in prison for a man accused of kidnapping two boys and sexually abusing one of them, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Franklin County prosecutor Robert Parks said he may join with prosecutors from the federal government and Washington and St. Louis counties in offering a plea deal to Michael Devlin, 41.

It would include "several, several consecutive life sentences," Parks said. He wasn't certain when the deal would be offered.
If this plea deal ensures that this man will never be released under any circumstances and it requires him to admit his full guilt, I think a plea deal should be offered.

However, if the deal allows Devlin to plead no contest, I would oppose it since that would allow him to maintain a facade of an innocent man unfairly trapped by the criminal justice system. The victims deserve to have a full acknowledgement of guilt or a jury verdict.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:02 AM   5 comments links to this post


At March 07, 2007 12:16 PM, Blogger Kaethe said...

Hey, something just struck me while reading this post, and it's only a little related. When a child is abducted there's the huge Amber Alert media frenzy, which is probably a very good thing. But, when (if) the child is located alive, there will be no shielding of identity when details of the abduction are released.

Obviously, we can't un-know a child's name. But would it be more respectful of us, when blogging about these cases, to voluntarily withhold the victim's names? The name is out there, but should we decline to repeat it? What do you think?

At March 07, 2007 1:42 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


This is an excellent question. In cases like this where the name exposure has gone national, I see no reason to withhold the victims' names.

While a few people have fallen into the trap of victim blaming, the vast majority of people refuse to buy into this nonsense.

There are definitely non-sex crime cases where I wouldn't use the name of alleged victims.

At March 08, 2007 7:36 AM, Anonymous eugene said...

on naming the victim

but you don't know the clild's mental state...the first public comment made by the second boy in this case was about the TV coverage "there is too much of me on there". We should take a hint from that.

I have no criticism of your blog its just the overall coverage is unmerciful.

Fox News obtaining depressing pictures (no source revealed) of one of the abducted boys (including some "shirtless" pictures) taken in his abductors bedroom.

These were displayed under the caption "S**** H******* in captivity" as if he were an animal in a zoo rather than an abused child.

Taken without his consent and now available for all to download, again without his consent.

Is this news or abise by proxy ?

At March 08, 2007 8:42 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Eugene, the problem I see is the one you highlighted. Unmerciful treatment of victims. The pictures you refer to fits into that category and I believe step over the line whether they use his name or withhold it.

Much of this unmercifulness reflects the humiliating nature of the crimes and reinforces that humiliating victims isn't all bad.

At March 08, 2007 11:44 AM, Blogger Kaethe said...


I understand your position. I just started thinking about this.

And Eugene, that's an egregious example of what I was thinking about. I just think how painful it must be for the average crime victim, and the victim's loved ones, to see the name everywhere.

I think what I've just decided is that if it were me, or my loved one, I'd rather not see the name. Probably I'd prefer the phrase "absolutely innocent and unblamed by anyone" but that's wishful thinking.

I think I'll go with locations only, or redaction with asterisk.


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