Judge calls Terri Horman 'suspect,' rules civil suit can continue

Judge calls Terri Horman 'suspect,' rules civil suit can continue »Play Video
Terri Horman, left, and Desiree Young.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A judge in the civil case against Terri Horman, the step-mother of missing boy Kyron Horman, issued an opinion on Tuesday in which he called Terri a “prime suspect” in the boy’s disappearance.

By calling her a suspect, the judge said Terri can for now avoid a deposition in the civil case against her.

The opinion was issued as part of an ongoing civil case filed by Desiree Young, Kyron’s biological mother, accusing Terri of kidnapping Kyron and “intentionally interfering with [Young’s] parental rights.

The judge ruled the lawsuit can continue, although Terri Horman herself doesn't immediately have to answer any questions.

The civil suit and new opinion are separate from any criminal case. So far, police and prosecutors have not named a formal suspect in the two-year-old case.

"The civil case is a process that is independent of the active, ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Multmonah County Sheriff's Office," said sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Harry Smith.

Kyron disappeared from his Northwest Portland elementary school in June 2010. Despite a large-scale investigation, there have yet to be any criminal charges filed related to the case.

In June of this year Desiree Young filed the civil suit against Terri.

In the ruling released Tuesday, Judge Henry Kantor weighed a request from Terri’s lawyers to halt the civil case because Terri might be required to incriminate herself during a deposition or a trial. That could violate her constitutional rights.

After weighing several factors, Kantor ruled that the case should move forward, although Terri herself will not immediately be required to provide any testimony or evidence.

Young's lawyers will be allowed to dig for evidence and get depositions for anyone related to the case except Terri, Kantor ruled.

He wrote that delaying a deposition from Terri is "significantly less prejudicial to both sides."

In the meantime, he asked lawyers from both sides to consider several questions about how the delay should be handled and then report back to him.

"I think it’s just acknowledgment by the court that we shouldn’t be waiting. We need to bring him home, he’s in danger, his safety is important, we need to get the info to locate him," said Kaine Horman, Kyron's father. "I think that’s an important path forward."