Legal wranglings in Kyron Horman disappearance continue

Legal wranglings in Kyron Horman disappearance continue
Kyron Horman

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The biological mother of a missing Oregon boy says her civil suit against the boy's stepmother should move forward, despite the stepmother's request for a two-year delay.

Desiree Young says Terri Horman should not be allowed to delay Young's suit by two years.

Horman asked for the delay last month, saying a criminal investigation should conclude before Young's suit goes forward.

Young is seeking $10 million, and wants to force Horman to lead her to her son, Kyron Horman.

Kyron was 7 when he went missing after a June 2010 science fair. Young says Horman knows where to find Kyron or his remains.

Young's attorney, Elden Rosenthal, said in a Thursday filing that there's no Oregon precedent for deciding whether to delay a civil case while a criminal one plays out and notes that Horman has not been indicted.

"The big picture here is this: Kyron Horman has been missing for 26 months," the filing asserts. "Despite a monumental investigative effort by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Terri Horman has not been indicted.

"The trail is getting cold. A stay of these civil proceedings would work a hardship, inequity and injustice upon the plaintiff, the public and the court."

The civil lawsuit accuses Horman of kidnapping Kyron, by herself or with help.

Investigators have long focused on Horman, although they have not named her as a suspect or filed criminal charges. In Horman's motion, attorney Peter Bunch wrote that the civil suit seeks facts that could lead to a criminal prosecution.

In a reply brief filed Thursday, Rosenthal says there's no reason to hold off on the civil suit, and denies the case is a "stalking horse" for police to use to pry answers out of Horman.

Civil allegations require a lower standard of proof — a preponderance of evidence — than criminal charges, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Horman's motion to delay the civil suit said that compelling her to testify could force her to invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination, pointing out the weak spots in her case.

"She can defend herself," Young's brief asserts. "If she does not know what happened to Kyron, she can so testify."

Horman asked for and received a delay, or abatement, in her divorce from husband Kaine Horman, Kyron's father.

In Thursday's filing, Rosenthal said the delay in the divorce was granted only five months after Kyron went missing, when there was still a task force dedicated to finding him. The task force has since been put on hiatus.

"The situation is entirely different now," the filing states. It goes on to say that delays could be compromising to the search for Kyron.

Young "fears that the trail is now becoming cold," according to the filing. "Witnesses may die or disappear. Memories may fade. Records may be destroyed or lost. Foggy memories may harden into concrete false memories.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.