A judge handed down a 90-day jail sentence to the man police say hid his 17-year-old girlfriend in his apartment while the girl was reported missing.
But 20-year-old Bobby Young may not be heading to jail just yet.
Young, of New London, pleaded no contest Wednesday to interfering with custody in the case of Abbi Obermiller, who disappeared from her grandparents’ home in Norwalk and was found June 30, after hiding for weeks in the attic of an apartment Young rented.
His plea, while not an admission of guilt, is essentially a concession that there’s enough evidence to convict him if the case proceeded to trial. He opted for the plea to avoid a trial scheduled for that morning, in which more facts of the case would have been presented, said David Longo, the public defender serving as his attorney.
The trial would have been a bench trial, with a decision made by Norwalk Municipal Court Judge John Ridge instead of a jury.
Ridge sentenced Young to 180 days in jail, with 90 days suspended as long as he complies with the judge’s orders.
The orders: Young can’t have any contact with Obermiller for the next two years, and he has to pay a $250 fine in a timely manner.
His jail sentence is scheduled to start Saturday, but David Longo said he’ll make a motion to delay it pending an appeal.
The judge denied a motion earlier that morning to suppress evidence that police, acting on a search warrant, had obtained after searching Young’s apartment.
Longo is appealing the judge’s denial, but he may also make a second appeal in the other case pending against Young, regarding charges of obstructing official business.
Police said they can prove Young lied when he denied knowing Obermiller’s whereabouts, pointing to text messages between the two of them. Young has already pleaded not guilty on that charge.
Longo, however, said police had no right to obtain the text messages in the first place.
“The Supreme Court has ruled they can acquire phone numbers, but text messages are the equivalent to listening in on conversations,” he said. “You need a warrant for that. Another argument is, how is that different from reading my mail?”
The legal implications of text messages haven’t been widely considered because they’re a relatively new technology, Longo said, so the case could set a precedent if heard by higher courts.