Emery County Deputy County Attorney Brent Langston explained a case that is bound for trial on July 10-13 in Emery County. The case against Daniel Roberts, DOB 10-2-79 began when the Internet Child Abuse task force for the state of Utah notified Emery County's county attorney's office that suspected child pornography had been traced back to Emery County. This action took place in late 2009.
Investigators developed information from their monitoring of websites that alerted them to the suspected child pornography in Emery County. Enough evidence was compiled and a search warrant was issued. A physical address was determined from the IP address connected with the computer. The internet site in question was a sharing network that was used sometimes to share suspected child pornography.
The search warrant was executed but the defendant was not home at the time.
The defendant was located in the Wasatch Front area where a laptop computer was seized for evidence. The computer was put through the process of retrieving any old files and checking everything that was on the computer for evidence of child pornography. Suspected child pornography was found on the laptop and the case was forwarded to Emery County for prosecution. Langston explained a video on the computer contained suspected child pornography. Under state statute every separate victim or sex act is considered a separate count. The defendant was charged with 30 counts of sex exploitation of a minor-a second degree felony. Langston said the video involved pre-pubescent girls. He didn't know the ages of the girls. The video was one possibly produced commercially and sent over the internet. There were also still photos.
The defendant has pled not guilty and the case has been in the courts for the past two years.
Langston said defense attorney Sean Hullinger has filed numerous motions and a motion to suppress which was denied. The latest motion was regarding the request to take the suspected child pornography and have it analyzed by their expert. But, it is the state's position that every time the video is replayed or viewed unnecessarily constitutes another violation against the victims. The defense has also filed a motion to dismiss claiming the statute underwhich the defendent is charged is unconstitutional.
The video is considered contraband. Langston believes out of respect for the victims the video should not be allowed out of custody. Judge Douglas Thomas has taken the latest motion under advisement and will announce his intent to allow or deny the motion at a telephone conference with all the parties involved on April 18 at 8:15 a.m.
Langston said internet crimes are a specialized area of law and the attorney general's office has sent Paul G. Amann who works with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to offer assistance in the case. Langston said, "I am grateful for his help. The trial date has been set. There have been many delays but I believe it's time this case was resolved. The investigation took place in 2009 and the charges were filed on May 18, 2010. It's been almost two years, it's unusual a case of this nature has taken so long to resolve. The legislature made it a crime to possess child pornography. This was to act as a deterrent and help eliminate the market for material of this type."
The case was before Judge Thomas most recently on March 20. It was a hearing on motions/pretrial notice. Attorney Hullinger advised the court that their expert investigator (Mr. Lee) has been trying to reach the IRCFL to be able to do the discovery, but he has not been able to get any response from them. Lee sent a motion to withdraw to Hullinger on March 20.
Attorney Amann stated that a protective order must be in place before Lee could go to IRCFL. He says he has drafted one and sent it to Hullinger. Hullinger advised the defense may have to hire a new expert investigator and they are asking for three-four weeks to hire a new one. It was stipulated that they would have their new investigator hired by April 9. The IRCFL examination is to be completed by May 2. Jury trial is set in this matter for July 10-13. The cut-off for motions is June 1. A hearing is set for motions on June 20 at 1:30 p.m. Both parties presented arguments on the defendant's motion for clarification. The court rules that they used SHA1 to stream images to law enforcement. Both counsel presented arguments on the defendant's motion to dismiss. The court takes this matter under advisement and will announce the ruling on a telephone conference set for April 18 at 8:15 a.m. The state requested a warrant of arrest for the defendant because of his non-appearance. The court authorized a bench warrant set in the amount of $100,000. The warrant is not to issue unless the defendant doesn't appear on June 20.
If the case continues forward and goes to trial the video would have to be presented as evidence by the state.
The IRCFL is the internet related crimes forensic lab.