The admitted kidnapper in the bizarro March 2015 Vallejo abduction case of Denise Huskins is appearing in court today almost exactly two years later to receive his sentence. Harvard-trained lawyer Matthew Muller, 39, told a reporter following his arrest in July 2015 that he suffered from bipolar disorder with "extreme paranoia and psychosis," and his illness apparently led him to imagine he was a part of a gang of "gentlemen criminals," with Huskins's abduction for ransom something of a trial run for bigger crimes. Last September he pleaded guilty in the case, and as the Associated Press reports, federal prosecutors have agreed to a 40-year sentence, saying, "Public safety requires that he be imprisoned until he is old and weak."
Muller's defense attorney Thomas Johnson is pushing for a 30-year sentence, saying that his client can be rehabilitated and saying that his mental illness is "truly debilitating."
The only new bit of information to come in the latest court proceedings is that Muller apparently surveilled his victims, Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn, using a drone prior to the home invasion and kidnapping that occurred on March 23, 2015. He managed to tie up both victims and give them a liquid sedative, and put headphones on them playing a pre-recorded message that led them both to believe there were multiple kidnappers. Muller then put Huskins in his trunk and drove her to his family's home in South Lake Tahoe where police would later find evidence relating to the abduction. Huskins has said that a sexual assault also occurred, and in a letter Muller wrote to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter refuting claims by Vallejo police that this entire thing was a hoax something that led to national headlines and comparisons to the film Gone Girl he implied that he decided to return Huskins to her parents home in Huntington Beach, California two days later after she told him of a previous sexual assault.
Muller would only later be arrested, and the case proven not to be a hoax, after he botched another home invasion in Dublin, California, and a detective there connected the cases to others that had occurred in previous years on the Peninsula, also involving women in their 20s, via a cellphone that Muller dropped in the Dublin home.
He pleaded no contest in the Dublin case in September 2015 after fainting in court.
Huskins is now suing the Vallejo PD over their handling of the case and their treatment of her.
We'll update you when the sentencing comes down.
Update: A letter from Huskins's father, delivered to the sentencing judge, was revealed by KCRA. In it, Mike Huskins writes, "Please be reminded of the assault Mr. Muller inflicted on my daughter. He tied her up, drugged her, blindfolded her, threw her in the trunk of his car and took her on a four-hour car ride. Once he reached his destination Mr. Muller tied my daughter to the bed and continued to drug her. He terrorized my daughter, threatening her with harm constantly. And yes, your honor, he raped her, not once but twice. The horror she went through is unimaginable. Only because of her strength did she manage to be set free after 48 hours of horror."
Update 2: Both Huskins and Quinn testified at the sentencing hearing, with Huskins describing the two sexual assaults that occurred while she was bound and blindfolded in Muller's South Lake Tahoe home. Per the AP, she said in court, "The only way I got through it was to picture that it was Aaron that I was with." Investigators presented video evidence of Muller setting up the cameras and taping himself committing the assaults.
Update 3: Muller has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, as the Sacramento Bee reports.