Preliminary hearing set for Devlin in Washington County

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

POTOSI, Mo. (AP) -- A preliminary hearing has been set in Washington County for accused kidnapper Michael Devlin.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the hearing date is set for May 9.

The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for Devlin to be tried in court.

Devlin is accused of kidnapping 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck in Washington County in 2002. He also is charged with kidnapping 13-year-old Ben Ownby in Franklin County this year. Both boys were found in Devlin's apartment in January.

Devlin's attorney Michael Kielty told The Associated Press that he doesn't expect the preliminary hearing to occur.

Kielty said Devlin likely will be indicted by a grand jury on the charges before the preliminary hearing is scheduled to occur. That would move the case to trial without a public hearing on the evidence.

Devlin faces 81 state and federal charges for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting both boys.

None of the charges carries the death penalty. Prosecutors said each of the 75 state charges could result in a life sentence. Devlin also could face 170 additional years if convicted on the federal charges. He wouldn't begin serving federal time until he has served out his state sentences, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway has said.

While it is The Associated Press' policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse in most cases, the boys' stories have been widely publicized and their names are now well-known. Their families also have gone public, conducting media interviews.

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