Michael Devlin, the former pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, will plead guilty next week to kidnapping and sexual abuse charges..
Michael Devlin, the former pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, will plead guilty next week to kidnapping and sexual abuse charges, a prosecutor and a relative of one of the boys said Friday. Devlin's surprise decision brings a sudden end to a massive criminal case that has drawn international attention.
"This is a great day," said Loyd Bailie, Ben's uncle. "Just knowing that Ben is not going to have to relive all this through the court system -- this is cloud nine."
Devlin was arrested in January after police found Shawn and Ben in Devlin's apartment in the St. Louis County town of Kirkwood. He faces more than 80 felony charges in three Missouri counties and federal court, and would face several life sentences if convicted. Devlin initially pleaded not guilty to all the charges, raising the specter that Ben and Shawn might be forced to testify against him during multiple trials.
Bailie said the family had been briefed by prosecutors that Devlin will plead guilty in all four jurisdictions where he is charged. Attorneys on both sides of the case would not comment, but St. Louis County's prosecutor made a surprise announcement of a series of hearings to end the cases in all four jurisdictions.
The hearings will be Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.