Kris Picket reports:
A local man is likely to go to prison for years after he says he accidentally downloaded child pornography onto his computer.
Matthew White, 22, said he was surfing for pornography two years ago on Limewire — a fire sharing application that allows users to trade music, movies, games and pictures — when he discovered that some of the files he had downloaded were images of children.
Matt claims he quickly erased the files.
“It didn’t appeal to me,” he said. “I was looking for women my age, so I just wanted to download ‘College Girls Gone Wild’ and accidentally downloaded underage pornography.”
About a year later, FBI agents showed up at his family’s home. The family agreed to let agents examine the computer, and at first, they couldn’t find anything.
Investigators later were able to recover the deleted images from deep within the hard drive.
“I asked them, ‘Where did you get that? I don’t remember that.’ I asked them, ‘Could I access that if I wanted to?'” Matt said. “They said no.”
Facing 20 years in prison for possessing child pornography, Matt is pleading guilty on the advice of his public defender in hopes of getting a three and a half year sentence. He will also serve 10 years probation and have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Read more on CBS13, via Slashdot. There are a number of comments on CBS’s site under the story, many of which mirror my reaction of “Why is he pleading guilty and can’t some good lawyer volunteer to represent him pro bono?”
Updated Dec. 6: Over on Simple Justice, a commenter reports that “Plea agreement states that the images were S&M (though that’s be irrelevant if accidentally downloaded). However, he copped to at least 150 images.”
As also noted on that blog, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that the young man downloaded one archive with 150 images, looked at one, and deleted them all. Did the FBI look for evidence of any archive download, and if so, did they find it? And did the public defender look into that or consider that? Certainly if the FBI’s evidence indicated that the 150 images were downloaded or opened at different times, that would cast doubt on White’s story, but what did the forensic evidence show?
In the absence of more information, I will continue to wonder whether this young man was pressured into accepting a plea that perhaps he should not have accepted.