Man charged in bizarre Vallejo kidnap-for-ransom case faints in court

HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - Matthew Muller, the Harvard Law graduate charged in a bizarre Vallejo kidnap-for-ransom case, fainted Friday morning while entering no-contest pleas in a separate Dublin home invasion.

Muller, dressed in a red jail jumpsuit, keeled over at the Hayward Hall of Justice, prompting Alameda County sheriff's deputies to summon paramedics.

The medics checked his vital signs and asked Muller if he had any medical problems and then left. Muller should be OK, said his attorney Tom Johnson.

As Muller fainted, Johnson was discussing - with a prosecutor and Judge Joseph Hurley - his client's intention to plead no contest to all the charges associated with a June home invasion in Dublin.

Muller later confirmed to the judge that although he was taking Wellbutrin for depression and Risperdal, an antipsychotic medication, he felt well enough to continue.

"Your honor, I feel prepared to proceed, thank you," Muller said.

"You feel OK right now?" the judge asked.

"Yes, sir," Muller replied.

"He just felt sick for the moment," Johnson told Hurley, who confirmed that from the bench, it appeared that "this was nothing feigned. This was genuine."

Muller entered no-contest pleas to two counts of attempted robbery with an enhancement for attacking one of the victims  in the head with a flashlight, and one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and burglary.

Johnson said after the hearing that typically, defendants who are convicted of serious felonies find themselves under stress in court, which could lead to a variety of reactions.

As for his client pleading no contest to all the charges, the attorney said, "I believe this is what he wants to do, and this is appropriate thing to do."

Muller could face 11 years when he is sentenced in the case.

Attorneys said Friday that any time Muller serves in the Dublin incident would be served concurrently with any sentence he could serve in the federal case, in which FBI agents and the U.S. attorney's office have accused him of kidnapping Denise Huskins in Vallejo.

The federal case is still pending.

Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn on Thursday filed legal claims against the city of Vallejo, accusing police of damaging their reputation and causing them emotional distress when they were publicly branded as ‘hoaxsters’ who orchestrated their own kidnapping - an abduction allegedly committed by Muller.