A man was found guilty Monday of kidnapping his two young children and fleeing from law enforcement in a motorhome last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Jurors deliberated for two hours before finding Stephen Merle Houk, 48, guilty of two counts each of kidnapping, child abuse, injuring a spouse and child detention, and one count each of assault with a firearm, criminal threats, fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Prior to the jury trial, Houk pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of failing to register as a sex offender, Greg Risling, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Monday in a news release.
Deputy District Attorney Tal Kahan of the Child Abduction Section prosecuted the case.
Houk is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 4 in Department 115 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He faces more than 78 years in state prison.
On May 1, 2018, Houk and the mother of his children got into a fight in the family’s RV parked in Malibu, Kahana was quoted as saying in the news release.
The defendant pointed a loaded firearm at her and threatened to kill her. The two children, one 10 months old and the second 3 years old, were awakened by the attack on their mother, the prosecutor said.
Houk drove away and stopped at a gas station before driving to a Santa Clarita coffee house where he forced her to panhandle, according to the prosecutor.
The victim eventually asked for help from a passerby who called law enforcement. Houk fled when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies responded and a pursuit ensued.
Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau investigated the cas The defendant eventually fled from the RV after stopping near Bakersfield, the prosecutor said. He was later found in Barstow and arrested.
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