Field Notes

Horman divorce case returns to court

Horman divorce case returns to court
FILE - Kaine Horman stands in front of an age-progressed photo posted on the side of a truck trailer of what his missing son could look like now during an unveiling for media, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, at a trucking yard in Pacific, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

On Friday morning, in the courtroom of Judge Henry Kantor, we'll hear the latest in a case that has captivated Oregon for more than three years.

Well, sort of.

There will be a hearing in the ongoing divorce case between Kaine Horman and Terri Moulton Horman.

Of course, it is the disappearance of Kaine’s son – Terri’s stepson – Kyron that has captivated Oregon. The divorce proceedings are just a sideshow.

Friday’s hearing is over an attempt by Terri’s legal team – led by criminal defense lawyer Stephen Houze - to take a deposition from Bobby O’Donnell (the lead investigator on the case for the first 18 months after Kyron disappeared).

For those who have somehow missed this case – Kyron disappeared from Skyline Elementary on June 4, 2010. No one has been charged in the case, although law enforcement has made no secret of their interest in Terri’s behavior that day.

A month later, law enforcement informed Kaine they had uncovered an attempt by Terri to hire a hitman to kill him.

That led to Kaine deciding he wanted a divorce.

Not much progress has been made since, as the divorce proceedings have been intertwined with the criminal investigation into Kyron’s disappearance.

Terri Horman accompanied by attorneys Peter Bunch, left, and Stephen Houze, not seen, leaves the Multnomah County CourthouseJudge Kantor recently decided things should move forward and, from appearances, Terri’s team is using the divorce proceedings as a way to undermine the criminal investigation.

Which is really kind of smart when you think about it.

To understand, just look at the people they are looking to take depositions from.

First, you have O’Donnell.

From all accounts he has limited – none – experience as a marriage counselor. He does have 18 months experience leading the investigation into Kyron’s disappearance.

Second, take a look at the list of people scheduled to be deposed next Tuesday.

Houze plans to take statements from teachers, students, parents and students who were at Skyline Elementary the day that Kyron disappeared.

It’s been well-established that Kaine was at his job at Intel the morning that Kyron disappeared; that he was nowhere near the school.

So why talk with all the people who were at the school when Kyron disappeared?

Several people familiar with the case suggest that one way to look at this is that Houze is going to try and make law enforcement prove their case, which they won’t be able to do.

He will be accumulating sworn statements from potential witnesses that would then be at his disposal at trial.

It is very unlikely any of these people are going to be able to say they saw Terri do anything untoward on that day.

And then there’s the fact that the depositions are being done by Houze, the criminal defense lawyer, in his office. It appears the divorce lawyer is taking a backseat in some of the divorce proceedings.

At Friday’s hearing, lawyers for Multnomah County will argue that allowing O’Donnell to be deposed will jeopardize the investigation, which they describe as very active with tips continuously coming in and being pursued.

There have been developments lately in the investigation.

DeDe Spicher, a friend of Terri’s, recently gave an interview to a blogger in which she asserted, among other things – that she had been cleared.

People with knowledge of the case say not quite.

What they say is that there has been an evolution in how DeDe is viewed.

For a long time, they pursued her, feeling quite sure that she might have played a role in Kyron’s disappearance. They are now pretty sure that is not true, though they believe she might have some knowledge.

Which leads us to what was probably the most surprising bit of news in the interview with the blogger.

DeDe asserted that she had been approached recently by law enforcement about trying to get Terri on the phone to see if she would incriminate herself.

Several people were dismissive of that because the DA’s office has told the sheriff’s office not to try and do sting operations on people who are already lawyered up – and Terri fits into that category.

As it turns out, it turns out DeDe was playing it straight – she had been approached and she turned them down.

It was a development that left several people familiar with the investigation shaking their heads. Given DeDe’s believed closeness to Terri, was it really worth the risk?

Given that DeDe turned around and gave an interview disclosing the offer, probably not.

There has also been a recent series of searches organized by Kaine’s ex-wife – and Kyron’s mother – Desiree.

Desiree and her sister marshaled a group of volunteers to search a wide swath of the area between Skyline Elementary and the Horman home.

One area they were not allowed to search was Kaine’s property – something that Desiree has made some hay about.

But, here’s the thing. Why should Kaine let a bunch of private citizens run rampant over his property?

In the past three years, the Sheriff’s Office has conducted between eight and a dozen searches there. And before Desiree’s searchers hit the ground, the sheriff’s office made it clear they did not endorse the idea of a private search.

And Kaine has made it clear that anytime law enforcement wants to search his property, he is more than willing to let them.

Right now there is a lot of sideshow going on – a combination of posturing and publicity seeking.

It’s very easy to forget that at the center of all this is the simple fact that three years later, Kyron is still missing.