Man accused of kidnapping, assault, ordered to stand trial

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A kidnapping suspect found hiding last year in an empty train car after a two-day search by police was ordered to stand trial this week.

Stephen Merle Houk, 46, appeared Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court for a preliminary hearing. Houk stands accused of kidnapping his two young children and fleeing from authorities in a motorhome.

During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors present evidence in the case, after which the defense can respond; the judge can then decide if the case should go to trial.

Houk is charged with: two counts each of kidnapping; child abuse; injuring a spouse; child detention; and one count each of assault with a firearm, criminal threats, fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon, fugitive from justice and transient violation of registration, a misdemeanor, Greg Risling, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,9 said Friday.

On May 1, Houk and his spouse got into a fight in the family’s RV parked in Malibu, Risling said last year when the arrest was made.

The defendant is accused of pointing a loaded firearm at her and threatening to kill her.

The two children, ages 3 and 1, were awakened by the commotion, according to an account of Houk’s arrest released by prosecutors 10 months ago.

Houk allegedly drove away and stopped at a gas station, they wrote in a news release issued in May 2018.

His wife eventually asked for help from a passerby who called for help.

Houk then allegedly fled when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies responded and a pursuit ensued.

Pursuing officers of the California Highway Patrol followed the motorhome to an almond orchard north of Bakersfield.  

The two children were found safe and unharmed in the motorhome.

The defendant, however, allegedly fled from the RV,  prosecutors said.

Houk was found in Barstow and arrested.

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