Opening statements set for man accused in last year’s RV pursuit


Opening statements are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the case of alleged armed kidnapper Stephen Merle Houk, found hiding in the empty compartment of a rail car in Barstow at the end of a two-day manhunt last year.

Jury selection wrapped up Monday in a Los Angeles County courtroom, paving the way for the trail to begin.

“Opening statements are scheduled to begin tomorrow,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said Monday.

Houk was ordered to stand trial in March.

He 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, being a fugitive from justice and transient violation of registration, a misdemeanor.

On May 1, 2018, Houk and his spouse got into a fight in the family’s RV parked in Malibu, DA spokesman Greg 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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