SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A former U.S. Marine changed his plea to guilty Friday in the bizarre kidnapping case that led to a lawsuit against Vallejo police for falsely accusing the two victims of faking their own abduction.
Matthew Muller entered a guilty plea to kidnapping during his appearance in federal court Thursday morning. Under the terms of the plea deal, he can be sentenced to no more than 40 years.
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Before entering his plea, Muller was found by the court to be competent to understand the proceedings against him. Muller previously told investigators that he was a U.S. Marine from 1995 to 1999. He said he suffered from “Gulf War illness and problems with psychosis” and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008.
He later attended Harvard University from 2003 to 2006 and earned a law degree, but was disbarred in Massachusetts in 2015.
“Muller committed a serious and violent crime that terrorized the victims in this case. He violated the sanctity of their home and caused fear and panic for all those affected by the kidnapping,” said acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. “My office is grateful that Alameda County authorities responded so effectively to the earlier Alameda County break-in and then provided the information that led to the investigation and charges in their case.”
Muller is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley on January 19, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.
Muller was indicted last year for assaulting Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, in their Mare Island home as they slept on March 23, 2015. According to a lawsuit filed by the couple, the assailant bound them both with zip ties, blindfolded them, drugged them and interrogated them in separate rooms.
He eventually took Huskins, still bound and blindfolded, in the truck of his car and raped her twice, holding her hostage while keeping her blindfolded with taped-over swim goggles, according to the suit. During that time, the kidnapper contacted the news media and sent a recording of the woman.
She was released two days later near her parents’ home in Huntington Beach. During the time she was held captive, Vallejo police first accused her boyfriend of killing her, then when she was found safe, they called a news conference and accused the couple of fabricating the entire ordeal.
Eventually, Dublin police and the FBI connected Muller to the crime through a similar home invasion robbery in Dublin a few months later on June 5. In that case, a masked man broke into a couple’s home as they slept and tried to bind them, but they attacked him and chased him out of the house.
Dublin police learned of two other similar incidents in Mountain View and Palo Alto. In both incidents, a masked man wearing all black bound, blindfolded and drugged sleeping victims and tried to rob them and rape them, according to the suit. Palo Alto police had even questioned Muller.
After Dublin police tracked Muller through a cellphone he left behind at the robbery scene, the FBI connected him to the Vallejo kidnapping through evidence found at Muller’s mother’s home in South Lake Tahoe. He was arrested June 8, 2015.
Muller pleaded no contest last September to attempted robbery, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon for the Dublin home invasion and was indicted in October on the federal charges.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed by the kidnapping victims against the Vallejo Police Department, including Detective Matthew Mustard and spokesman Lt. Kenny Park, is still pending in federal court. The couple is seeking unspecified damages for defamation, unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest and false imprisonment.
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