Judge sets hearing in child-porn case of Air Force Sgt.

Dec 8 2012 - 8:29am

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FARMINGTON -- Even though child pornography images were not found on a laptop, a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to go forward with related charges against an Air Force staff sergeant.

Second District Judge John R. Morris entered the ruling Friday following a preliminary hearing for Staff Sgt. Matthew Kris Harrelson, 35, of Layton. He is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree felonies.

A felony arraignment hearing has been set for Jan. 3.

Layton Detective Riley Richins, who is assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, testified that officers served a search warrant at Harrelson's apartment on Jan. 16.

The warrant was obtained after task force investigators saw that there was child pornography being viewed or downloaded to the computer address associated with Harrelson's home address, Richins said.

Richins said Harrelson told detectives that he had a friend who had been arrested for downloading child pornography several years earlier. Harrelson also told detectives that his Internet had been unsecured for several months because he had been experimenting with his gaming system.

Harrelson told detectives he had secured his Internet only a short time before the warrant was served, Richins testified.

Richins said investigators confiscated two laptops, a desk computer and a CD and turned them over in February to the Intermountain West Regional Computers Forensics Laboratory for a search.

Harrelson's attorney, Michael Murphy, asked how many images of child pornography were found on the CD and how old the images were.

Richins said of the 70 pornographic images on the CD, six of them were child pornography and the CD was created in 2003 or 2004.

Investigators did not find any images on the computers, the detective testified, but found unique identifiers from images that had either been downloaded and deleted or viewed once.

Murphy also asked Richins when was the last time the laptop, which had been in the gaming room, had been booted up. Richins said he did not know.

Morris said in his ruling that even though the actual files were not found on the computers, the hash value numbers related to the child pornography images were,

"It doesn't matter one bit if it was physically present, a trace was there," Morris said.

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