Prosecution rests case following day of testimony in Frisco child pornography trial
The trial of Kenneth Scott Casey continued on Wednesday at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge, bringing fairly technical testimony from a forensic computer specialist as well as a pediatric physician.
Casey, 61, is accused of possessing more than 2,000 instances of child pornography on his computer after his ex-girlfriend allegedly stumbled across the illicit material following their breakup in June 2015. Casey is charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a child, a felony that carries a presumptive punishment of two to six years in prison.
Paul Anderson, a retired special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, who performed data recovery and forensic analysis of the computer, was the first to take the stand. Anderson examined Casey’s computer, along with two flash drives provided to law enforcement by Casey’s ex at the secure HSI headquarters in Grand Junction.
Anderson said that he found four hard drives within the homemade computer during his investigation, removing each and labeling them in turn. He walked the jury through the steps of his analysis, briefly explaining how the data recovery was performed in this case, and how he was able to access the computer’s data without altering it. When asked by prosecutor Johnny Lombardi, he even performed the physical removal of one of the hard drives in court to illustrate the process.
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Anderson said he individually connected the hard drives to a physical “write blocker” — a device that stops his computer from writing on or altering the drives in any capacity — to his forensic computer station. From there, he said he used a forensic toolkit, or FTK Imager, to copy the contents of the hard drives onto a forensically sterile government hard drive where he was able to access the data.
Anderson provided three separate reports to the Frisco Police Department following his investigation of the drives, detailing more than 500 “notable images” and 19 videos. Anderson defined “notable” in this case as showing individuals clearly under the age of 18 engaged in sexual acts. In addition to the illicit materials, which were discovered on two separate hard drives, he flagged 10 documents on a third hard drive which helped to establish Casey’s ownership and control over the computer. Nothing of note was mentioned in the fourth hard drive.
Anderson also investigated two flash drives, which were surrendered to Frisco police by Casey’s ex, as a backup in case anything happened to the computer. No photos or videos were found on either drive, though Anderson did discover two folders labeled “Scott Casey’s Bookmarks” and “Stuff” containing a number of URLs to pornographic teen websites.
In the most disturbing part of Anderson’s testimony, he was asked to describe in minor detail 27 different photographs of child pornography he discovered during his investigation. Afterward, a book including the photos was given to the jury for inspection. The jury also watched a brief video discovered on the computer.
But perhaps the most important piece of Anderson’s testimony was his analysis of the pornographic material’s metadata — a set of data that gives information about another piece of data such as the file name, size, creation date and access date. This is relevant because it allows the jurors to create a presumptive timeline of the chain of custody of the computer over the last several years.
The prosecution entered several copies of personal checks made out to Casey found on the computer into evidence. While the checks were dated from 2001, the metadata revealed that the files were created on the hard drive in 2010. The illicit materials, though on a separate hard drive from the checks, were created on a drive as far back as 2005 and as recently as 2012. Metadata also revealed that the last time the illicit files were accessed was in 2014. Anderson explained that it is possible for files to be accessed without the knowledge of the computer’s user. This occurs when anti-virus software accesses files to scan for malware, which can alter the access date in the metadata. However, Anderson also noted he saw no signs of anti-virus software, malware or hacking on the computer.
Casey’s attorney Richard Banta continued to push the origin of the computer and its components into question. When asked, Anderson said he couldn’t tell who downloaded the pornographic material to the computer, nor could he say who built the computer or where the parts came from. Anderson also noted that one or more of the hard drives could have been purchased used, thereby already containing data.
Kathryn Emery, a physician at Children’s Hospital in Colorado Springs and specialist in pediatric emergency medicine, was the next to take the stand. Emery qualified as an expert witness to analyze the photographs and video entered into evidence, and to provide her professional opinion on the ages of the individuals in them. Emery explained that along with her 20 years of experience in the field, she used the “Tanner” scale to help make determinations on the children’s ages. The Tanner scale is a five-stage scale of physical and sexual development defined by physical characteristics like breast size and public hair, among others.
Emery made determinations on all 27 photographs, all of which contained minors. She said ages ranged from under 10 years old to around 14 years old.
Former Frisco police detective Walter Mahone also gave a short testimony, again corroborating the evidence’s unbroken chain of custody from the time it was given to law enforcement officials in June 2015. Mahone worked as an advisory witness for the prosecution in the case.
Following Mahone’s testimony, the prosecution rested it case. Casey declined to testify on his own behalf, and the defense entered no new evidence. The defense made a motion for judgment of acquittal near the end of the day, which was denied by Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson.
The trial will continue with jury instructions and closing arguments at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. Jury deliberation is expected to begin by early afternoon.
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