Suspect in Controversial Vallejo Kidnapping Case to Plead Guilty - NBC Bay Area
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Suspect in Controversial Vallejo Kidnapping Case to Plead Guilty

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    A disbarred Harvard University-trained attorney, suspected in a kidnapping case that Vallejo police initially dismissed as a hoax, is expected to plead guilty Thursday. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016)

    A disbarred Harvard University-trained attorney, suspected in a kidnapping case that Vallejo police initially dismissed as a hoax, is expected to plead guilty to a single charge in federal court on Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

    Muller previously pleaded not guilty to a kidnapping charge that prosecutors say stemmed from his abduction of Denise Huskins from her Vallejo home in March 2015.

    The U.S. Attorney's office has not provided further details, and no documents were immediately available laying out the terms of the plea change.

    A call to Muller's attorney, Thomas Johnson, was not immediately returned. Johnson has said Muller suffers from bipolar disorder.

    In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors asked a judge to inquire during the change of plea hearing about Muller's mental condition and medications to make sure he understands the proceedings and his rights.

    Huskins' boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, reported that kidnappers broke into the couple's home, abducted Huskins and demanded $8,500 in ransom money -- a figure police have said they found small for what would have been an elaborate kidnapping.

    Huskins turned up safe two days later in her hometown of Huntington Beach, where she says she was dropped off.

    On Wednesday, Quinn's attorney Daniel Russo said it is "wrong" and "appalling" that Muller has reached a new plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Based on the new deal, Russo said, Muller is expected to only plead guilty to one acount of kidnapping, avoiding a lengthy federal trial.

    "This guy is a threat to all of us," Russo said. "He's a threat to the community. It's not like he's going to get better in jail."

    After Huskins reappeared, Vallejo police said the kidnapping was a hoax.

    Huskins has filed a lawsuit accusing police of wrongly likening the case to the movie, "Gone Girl" and damaging the reputations of her and her boyfriend.

    Attorneys for police have said investigators doubted Quinn's account of the abduction and grew more skeptical when Huskins refused to reunite with her family soon after she reappeared.

    For his part, Russo is outraged that prosecutors didn't charge Muller with rape, home invasion or any crimes at all for what happened to Quinn, who he said was poisoned, robbed and held against his will. Muller is going to get a much lighter sentence than he deserves, according to the attorney.

    "If you give him an opportunity to get back on the street, he's not going to change his ways," Russo said. "He's a psychopath."

    Russo believes a trial would have exposed just how badly investigators botched the case.

    "They're sweeping it under the rug," he stressed. "They're sweeping it under the rug because any serious trial would implicate the missteps of the FBI."

    Quinn and Huskins, who Russo said are upset by Wednesday's news, will have a chance to speak at Muller's sentencing in a few months.

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