NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · MISSOURI · Prior Restraints · Jan. 24, 2007
Kidnapping suspect’s attorneys seek prior restraint
Jan. 24, 2007 · Attorneys for a Missouri kidnapping suspect are requesting a prior restraint that would prevent any further release of information acquired by the New York Post in two interviews with Michael J. Devlin on Friday and Saturday.
Devlin’s attorneys are also demanding in court filings that Susannah Cahalan – a freelance writer and Washington University student – turn over her notes, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The New York Post ran a story Sunday from Cahalan’s interviews with Devlin, a 41-year-old pizzeria manager who has been accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck, 15, in 2002 and Ben Ownby, 13, on Jan. 8. Both boys were found at Devlin’s apartment in Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis, on Jan. 12.
Devlin’s interviews with Cahalan did not cover material directly related to the case, mainly revealing his fear of explaining the situation to his parents and the loneliness he experienced over the years as most of his friends got married and had kids.
“We want to keep her from saying anything else based on those notes or those meetings, attorney Michael Kielty said in the Post-Dispatch.
Kielty has told reporters that Cahalan deceived Devlin to obtain the interviews and complained about the jail’s security.
But Franklin County Sheriff Gary F. Toelke has said it is Devlin’s right, not his lawyers’, to choose who he wants to see.
“It appears to me that the attorneys either neglected to inform their client or could not control their client and are blaming it on us,” Toelke said in a statement released to the media.
After the first Friday interview, Devlin signed a form saying he did not want to participate in interviews with the media except Cahalan, who he expected to revisit on Saturday, according to news reports.
Toelke said that Cahalan filled out the visiting request form and wrote “friend” in the relationship section.
Kielty claims Cahalan told Devlin she was writing only for a university publication and did not mention the Post. Toelke could not confirm that and said it would not matter.
“It would actually not make any difference to us who she was as long as Devlin granted the interview,” said Toelke, according to news reports.
Other news media requested to speak with Devlin last week, including the Post-Dispatch, but were denied after identifying themselves as members of the press.
Suzi Halpin, a spokeswoman for the New York Post, said the newspaper “stands by the story and the Post has declined to discuss the story in further detail.” Devlin’s attorneys have said the article contains factual errors but have refused to cite specifics.
Devlin has already pleaded not guilty to Hornbeck’s kidnapping and is expected to enter a second not guilty plea concerning Ownby.
A hearing on the gag order motion is yet to be scheduled.