Man accused of kidnapping Fort Worth girl, 8, pleads not guilty, wants new attorney

Fort Worth residents celebrate safe return of 8-year-old kidnapped

Fort Worth residents celebrated the return of an 8-year-old who was kidnapped Saturday, May 18, 2019.
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Fort Worth residents celebrated the return of an 8-year-old who was kidnapped Saturday, May 18, 2019.

A 51-year-old man accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old Fort Worth girl last month pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing in federal court Monday morning and told the judge he wants a new attorney.

Michael Webb had intended to plead guilty to the federal charge of kidnapping last week but then changed his mind minutes before a hearing was to begin.

Later that same day, a federal grand jury indicted him on the single count of kidnapping, paving the way for the case to go to trial. A date for the jury trial has been set for July 29, court records show.

Webb faces up to life in prison.

Webb is accused of kidnapping the girl on the evening of May 18 as she walked with her mother in the 2900 block of 6th Avenue in the Ryan Place neighborhood. She was rescued by Fort Worth police about eight hours later after two Good Samaritans saw the suspect’s car in a Forest Hill parking lot and called 911.

A Forest Hill sergeant had searched Webb’s hotel room two hours earlier based on an earlier tip that a person had seen a man matching the kidnapper’s description with a girl. Sgt. Richardson Wolfe did not find the child, who was hidden inside the room.

Wolfe was fired last week after an investigation by Forest Hill police found that, upon being called to the hotel a second time, the sergeant discounted the Good Samaritans’ report about the suspect’s car. Fort Worth officers, however, were dispatched on the same call and, after seeing the car, forced their way into Webb’s room and rescued the child.

Webb, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled, has been represented by federal public defender John Stickney.

During Monday’s arraignment, Webb told U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor that he wants a new attorney.

O’Connor responded that the attorney and Webb should try to resolve their dispute or must file a motion giving the reasons why Stickney should be withdrawn as Webb’s public defender.

The judge reminded Webb that while he is entitled to effective assistance of counsel, “you are not entitled to select your own attorney unless you can afford to hire one.”

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