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Denise Huskins’ alleged kidnapper appears in court

An ex-Marine and Harvard Law School graduate accused of abducting a Vallejo woman in March made an initial appearance in federal court in Sacramento Monday on a kidnapping charge.

Matthew Muller, 38, was informed of the charge against him but did not enter a plea at the hearing before federal magistrate Allison Claire, according to Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento.

Muller’s next hearing will be before U.S. Magistrate Kendall Newman on Oct. 5 for either arraignment on a grand jury indictment, if one is issued, or a preliminary hearing, Horwood said.

Muller’s defense attorney, Thomas Johnson, said he expected federal prosecutors to seek an indictment.

Johnson said, “I don’t anticipate” a plea bargain in the federal case.

At the Oct. 5 hearing, the magistrate will also consider a defense request that Muller should not be required to wear hand as well as ankle shackles when in court, according to the case docket. He wore full shackles at today’s hearing, according to the docket.

Muller, of Orangevale in Sacramento County, is accused of breaking into a Mare Island home shared by physical therapists Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn at 3 a.m. on March 23, drugging them, tying their hands with zip ties, masking their eyes with swim goggles, and abducting Hoskins in the trunk of a car.

Huskins was dropped off near her mother’s house in Huntington Beach two days later.

Muller is currently charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on June 29 with one count of kidnapping.

On Friday, Muller pleaded no contest to charges of attempted robbery, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in a similar home invasion of a Dublin residence early in the morning on June 5.

According to an FBI affidavit filed with the federal complaint, Muller entered the house at about 3:30 a.m. and was in the process of tying up the homeowners with zip ties when the husband fought back and the wife escaped to a locked bathroom and called 911 on her cellphone.

The intruder fled, but left behind a cellphone that eventually led investigators to Muller and to evidence allegedly linking him to the Vallejo kidnapping.

Vallejo police initially said they believed Huskins’ and Quinn’s account of the kidnapping was a hoax and that the couple had led police on a “wild goose chase.”

Police Chief Andrew Bidou sent them a letter of apology in July, the couple’s lawyers said last week. Huskins and Quinn on Thursday filed a claim of reputation damage and emotional distress against the Vallejo Police Department, in a possible precursor to a lawsuit.

Johnson said Muller served in the Marines for three years between 1995 and 1998 before attending college. Muller graduated from Pomona College and Harvard Law School. He worked for a time as an immigration attorney but was suspended by the State Bar of California in 2013 and disbarred earlier this year.

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