The man accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old Fort Worth girl in May was expected to plead guilty Tuesday morning.
But instead of pleading guilty to a federal kidnapping charge as court documents suggested Michael Webb would, he changed his mind. Hours later, a federal grand jury indicted him on a kidnapping charge.
Meanwhile, Forest Hill police say the sergeant in charge of the unsuccessful hotel room search for that kidnapped 8-year old girl has since been fired.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Webb showed up to federal court Wednesday morning and decided not to enter a plea.
Former federal prosecutor Benson Varghese, who is not affiliated with the case, was in the courtroom.
“We all went in expecting a plea to happen this morning,” Varghese said. “He did not appear to be upset, angry or otherwise emotional.”
Two days earlier, Webb’s defense attorney filed a factual resume detailing the May 18th kidnapping and signaling Webb's intent to plead guilty to a kidnapping charge. It said that “Webb, aged 51, seized, kidnapped and carried away [minor victim one], an 8-year-old-child, while she was walking with her mother.”
Part of the abduction was caught on a neighbor's doorbell camera. The document says Webb targeted the girl at random. It goes on to say, “to avoid detection from the police, Webb first drove [the child] to a parking lot and ordered her to hide in the front passenger floorboard.”
The court filing goes on to note that Webb used his cell phone’s GPS for directions to the hotel, where officers ultimately rescued the 8-year-old.
Authorities say police visited Webb's motel room in Forest Hill after a clerk at the hotel called shortly after the abduction, but after a visual search of the room, the child wasn't found.
Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis said his department looked into how officers handled the first call, and a police sergeant has been "indefinitely suspended" following their investigation into that search.
“Webb admitted that he knowingly and willfully seized and held (the child),” the document said. The words “with the intent to assault her” were crossed out and replaced with “and assaulted her.” Webb signed his initials on the document along with his defense attorney John Stickney.
Stickney declined to comment on the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says filing a factual resume is typically expected before a guilty plea is made.
And while Webb’s failure to enter a plea Wednesday morning after Monday’s filing is unusual, it’s not unheard of.
Federal prosecutors decided to present the case to a grand jury, where Webb was indicted on a kidnapping charge Wednesday afternoon.
A family member of the 8-year-old said he is disappointed in Webb’s decision and is frustrated that Webb has decided to make the situation even more difficult for the family.
Webb will be arraigned before a federal judge next Monday at 9 a.m. At that time, he will be required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Webb could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted of kidnapping an 8-year-old girl in Fort Worth last month.