Jury finds Kenneth Casey guilty in Frisco child pornography trial
The jury returned a verdict in the trial of Kenneth Scott Casey following closing arguments at the Summit County Justice Center on Thursday afternoon, finding Casey guilty of sexual exploitation of a child.
Casey, 61, was accused of possessing more than 2,000 instances of child pornography, which were discovered on his personal computer in June 2015.
“I think the trial went well,” said prosecutor Johnny Lombardi. “The jury did a wonderful job analyzing the evidence to tie it in with the facts of the case to convict.”
Lombardi took a hardline stance in his closing arguments, urging the jury not to get caught up in tangential arguments like who built the computer, and to focus instead on the technical evidence provided by the pornographic material’s metadata and the evidence’s unbroken chain of custody corroborated by law enforcement officials.
Lombardi began by summarizing the testimony of Casey’s ex girlfriend, who found the cache of child pornography on his computer, and continued to outline the evidence’s unbroken chain of custody based around police testimony from the time it came into contact with the Frisco Police Department to its arrival in the courtroom. He also pointed to Paul Anderson’s testimony, a forensic computer specialist who investigated the hard drives on the computer, who said that no evidence was found of hacking on the computer.
“There was no taint,” said Lombardi. “There was no breach.”
Lombardi also emphasized the metadata collected by Anderson related to the illicit materials, detailing a presumptive timeline of the computer’s ownership as well as when the materials were stored on the drives and last accessed.
As related in Anderson’s testimony, a series of checks made out to Casey were found on one of the computer’s hard drives with a creation date in April 2010. Two folders named “Stuff” and “Scott Casey’s Bookmarks” containing URLs to teen pornographic websites were created a couple months later. He also pointed to the most recent dates the illicit materials were accessed in April and November of 2014, as proof the images were viewed while Casey controlled the computer.
“All the children that you saw were under the age of 18,” said Lombardi. “And some were under the age of 10. The photos are vile and disgusting, but they were accessed by the defendant in April of 2014.”
Richard Banta, Casey’s defense attorney, countered by arguing that the prosecution’s case was built around circumstantial evidence, and that no hard proof was entered to suggest that Casey at any time knew that the illicit materials were on his computer, or that he ever viewed them.
“This case is based on assumptions, speculation, maybes and so forth,” said Banta.
Banta repeated some of his previous arguments, establishing that even Anderson, the prosecution’s key witness in the case, couldn’t speak to the origins of the homemade computer, or where its components — including the hard drives — came from.
Perhaps Banta’s most persuasive argument came when he pointed to a piece of Anderson’s testimony on Wednesday related to unallocated space on the hard drives. According to Anderson, when an image is deleted the “real estate” it was taking up on the drive still exists, meaning the image can still exist as well, even if it’s not accessible to users. Banta told the jury that this lends to the possibility that the hard drives could have been purchased used, already containing child pornography without Casey’s knowledge.
Finally, Banta attempted to inject some doubt into the access dates of the materials, asking the jury why a deviant child pornography user wouldn’t access the readily available materials for 14 months between the last accessed dates and the discovery date.
“There is no evidence that Casey lived a double life,” said Banta. “There is no evidence that he built this computer and no evidence that he knew these images were on this computer.”
But the jury saw otherwise, unanimously choosing to convict Casey after about three hours of deliberation. Banta declined to comment on the outcome of the trial.
Sexual exploitation of a minor is a felony that holds a presumptive punishment of two to six years in prison. A sentencing date has been set for Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson set a $2,500 cash or surety bond, and prohibited Casey from leaving the state, county or acquiring a passport. In addition, Thompson prohibited Casey from coming into contact with children under the age of 18, and ordered him to stay away from areas that children frequent such as schools, playgrounds and recreation centers.
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