PORTLAND — A Multnomah County judge denied a request by Terri Horman’s divorce attorneys to interview the lead investigator in the disappearance of the woman’s stepson, saying Oregon law makes clear that certain aspects of an ongoing investigation are highly privileged and confidential.
Judge Henry Kantor also said Monday that attorneys could not question young
students who attended school with the missing boy. The judge, however, granted their request to subpoena and depose teachers as well as workers from three businesses frequented by Terri Horman.
Kyron Horman was 7 when he vanished from his Portland school on June 4, 2010. A massive search came up empty and no arrests have been made.
About three weeks after the disappearance, Kaine Horman, Kyron’s father, filed for a restraining order against Terri Horman. He took the action after investigators told him that his wife had once approached a landscaper about killing him for money. Kaine Horman and the boy’s biological mother then went public with an accusation that Terri Horman, the last person to see Kyron, was responsible for the disappearance.
The Hormans are going through a divorce, and Kantor’s ruling was related to their dispute over custody for the child they share — a 4-year-old girl who has not seen her mother since Kaine Horman got the restraining order.
Terri Horman’s lawyers said they must obtain evidence to counter claims that she is not fit for parenting time, and should be privy to the same information her husband has been given about the criminal investigation.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office asked Kantor to postpone all discovery in the divorce case because it would interfere with the criminal investigation. The judge said that argument was not persuasive, but it would be “neither necessary nor right” to allow the attorneys to examine the chief investigator, Deputy Robert O’Donnell, about his findings.
“The documents and statements sought by the respondent from Deputy O’Donnell are clearly materials which would not be subject to discovery in a criminal prosecution,” the judge said.
But Kantor said he saw reason to deny the depositions of the teachers or the workers at nearby businesses. The students, however, are off-limits because they are minors, he has not heard from their parents and he doesn’t know if they have attorneys.
Moreover, “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 (in the criminal inquiry),” the judge wrote.
Terri Horman’s attorneys, Stephen Houze and Peter Bunch, did not return messages seeking comment.