The man convicted in the bizarre "Gone Girl" kidnapping and assault involving a Vallejo couple in 2015 told NBC Bay Area he's not guilty during an exclusive jailhouse interview Wednesday night.
Matthew Muller, a Harvard-educated lawyer, also is accused of raping Denise Huskins and assaulting her boyfriend Aaron Quinn. He is defending himself, acting as his own attorney, and on Wednesday night, he broke his silence.
"I want them to know I am and remain extremely sorry for their ordeal, and I have done what I can," he said.
Prosecutors say Muller entered the couple's Vallejo home as they slept, tied them up, drugged them then kidnapped and raped Huskins. Vallejo police initially deemed the crime a hoax plotted by the two victims, thus drawing comparisons to the 2014 thriller "Gone Girl."
Muller pleaded guilty in federal court last year to the kidnapping charge in exchange for a 40-year sentence. But on Wednesday, he said he plans to fight state charges he kidnapped and raped Huskins and falsely imprisoned her fiancé.
"It’s pretty simple. I’m not guilty," Muller said, adding that he wanted to help the couple in some way but was not mentally sound when he took the federal deal. "I fell in severe depression while at the Sacramento jail. I didn’t care what happened to me."
But he also said he’d gladly plead guilty if the couple agrees to a deal: Donate half of a $2.5 million settlement to a nonprofit that helps people wrongfully convicted.
"If they were to make a substantial donation to an innocence project, I could not put my own fate above that," Muller said.
Muller said Huskins and Quinn should understand what it’s like to be wrongfully accused. They got that settlement because Vallejo police initially called their case a hoax.
Muller says he pleaded guilty to the federal kidnapping charges because he felt bad for the couple.
"I don’t think there’s any excuse for the way the Vallejo Police Department handled it," he said. "That’s why I thought it was worth it to take a dive and made sure they achieved justice for that wrongful accusation."
Muller said he’s been manhandled and beaten while in prison and even raped. While he plans to use an insanity defense, legal analysts say that will be tough for any jury to buy.
"It flies in the face of his mental health defense to at the same time be representing himself," legal analyst Steven Clark said.
Muller is married now and has hopes of seeing freedom someday. He plans to use a mental illness defense as he fights the charges. He says there’s much more to the bizarre case that he plans to reveal, but he says he can’t dive into specifics at the moment because he would be giving up various legal rights in doing so.
"I'd really love to take the stand and be asked questions, and I don’t have to think about anything again, just telling the truth," he said. "It’s a very intricate story, but it also a true one. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, but it will come out, and there’s evidence for exactly what happened."
Muller is scheduled to appear next week in a preliminary hearing, and he likely will directly question Huskins and Quinn. But he says he doesn’t want to cause them any more pain.
"I understand Huskins and Quinn’s wedding is coming up soon," Muller said. "I did not control the timing on this. To suggest somehow I’ve plotted to make this happen right before they got married is ridiculous."