Judge: Terri Horman’s lawyers cannot question investigator

FILE - Terri Horman accompanied by attorneys Peter Bunch and Stephen Houze , right. leaves the Multnomah County Courthouse after a brief hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Ross William Hamilton, Pool)
FILE - Terri Horman accompanied by attorneys Peter Bunch and Stephen Houze , right. leaves the Multnomah County Courthouse after a brief hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Ross William Hamilton, Pool)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Terri Horman’s lawyers cannot depose the lead investigator into the disappearance of her stepson Kyron.

According to court documents obtained by KOIN, on Monday a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge approved a motion by county prosecutors to quash a civil subpoena to depose Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby O’Donnell, the lead investigator during the search for Kyron, who disappeared in June 2010.

“Under the circumstances of this case, it is neither necessary nor right to allow the respondent (Terri) to examine Deputy O’Donnell about his investigation,” Judge Henry Kantor wrote in his order. “Oregon law establishes that these aspects of Deputy O’Donnell’s investigation, including both protected documents and necessary conversations about those documents, are highly privileged and confidential.”

Kantor will, however, allow Terri’s lawyers to depose teachers from Skyline Elementary, where Kyron attended school and was last seen.

“The court sees no justification to deny the depositions of the teachers simply because they were interviewed by the investigators in the past. Counsel for the respondent have made it clear that they know not to ask clearly prohibited questions, such as what a witness may have said in any grand jury proceeding.”

Terri’s lawyers will not, though, be allowed to depose students.

“The court is concerned about a student’s ability to limit an answer in a way which would prevent the questioner from learning about what was said before the grand jury,” Kantor wrote.

Along with teachers, Horman’s lawyers will also be allowed to depose Fred Meyer and 24 Hour Fitness employees. Terri Horman is believed to have gone to the Beaverton Fred Meyer store and a 24 Hour Fitness gym on the morning of Kyron’s disappearance. Her lawyers can request documents and evidence from those companies, such as surveillance footage. They cannot, though, obtain evidence “showing what was said or provided to law enforcement.”

Kantor’s ruling Monday followed a wide-ranging 90-minute hearing Friday in the divorce and custody proceedings between Terri and her estranged husband Kaine Horman, Kyron’s father.

Terri is attempting to get restricted visitation rights with their 4-year-old daughter Kiara. This June, a judge renewed a restraining order originally filed by Kaine in June 2010 against his estranged wife that prevents her from contact with him or Kiara. The order was partly based on allegations by Kaine that Terri attempted to kill him in a murder-for-hire plot.

On June 4, 2010, a then 7-year-old Kyron disappeared from Skyline Elementary in Northwest Portland, launching the largest search in state history. Terri is believed to have been the last person to see him alive. She has never been officially named as a suspect in the case.

Monday’s ruling was in response to documents filed Aug. 28 by Terri’s civil attorney Peter Bunch requesting that the court deny a July 19 motion by Multnomah County prosecutors to quash civil subpoenas issued by Bunch to depose Kaine and Deputy Bobby O’Donnell.

Terri’s lawyers want to question O’Donnell regarding alleged information he provided to Kaine during the investigation. Bunch issued the civil subpoenas July 8. On the same day, he also filed a motion contesting the restraining order. Bunch alleged Friday that the relationship between Terri and Kiara was severed based on the information that O’Donnell provided Kaine.

“Lead investigator Bobby O’Donnell waived any confidentiality by showing Kaine Horman any documentation about Terri Horman,” Bunch told the judge during Friday’s hearing.

Terri’s criminal attorney, Stephen Houze, furthered Bunch’s argument Friday by alleging that the state is seeking to deny Terri her right to a parent-child relationship.

“I am one of three attorneys working on behalf of Terri Horman, a person who has been denied these fundamental rights now for three years by these tactics,” Houze said.

Meanwhile, Multnomah County District Attorney Don Rees countered that the information that O’Donnell divulged to Kaine could compromise the integrity of the investigation into Kyron’s disappearance. He stated that while no criminal case is pending, there is no time limitation if charges are ever filed in the future. Rees accused Terri’s lawyers of attempting to turn the divorce proceedings into a criminal trial.

Kaine’s attorney Peter Engel was also critical Friday of the legal wrangling that has taken place so far.

“We’ve just sat here and listened to an hour-and-a-half of grandstanding and rhetoric regarding this woman’s innocence and how she’s been subjected to violation of due process; which just ignores what ought to happen here. This is a discovery hearing.”

The latest ruling continues the long-running legal saga that has surrounded the missing young boy.

In June 2012, Desiree Young, Kyron’s mother, filed a $10 million civil lawsuit asking Terri to to reveal what she knows about his disappearance. That December, Kantor delayed the suit on the grounds that it could also impact the criminal investigation. In April of this year, Kantor also delayed the divorce hearing between Kaine and Terri for similar reasons.

On July 30, Young announced that she was dropping the civil suit so that it would not interfere with the criminal investigation, something she was not willing to do.

Kaine was in attendance at Friday’s hearing, while Terri was not. He issued the following statement Monday:

“Law enforcement is still actively investigating the case and making progress as evidenced by recent activities involving other areas and persons of interest in the case. Investigators continue to work with us very closely. Searches by law enforcement continue to be scheduled and held as case information and need dictate.

“We continue to move forward with actions we believe are in the best interest of finding Kyron while simultaneously focusing on the continued best interest needs of my daughter Kiara.”

Jessica Morkert contributed information to this report.

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