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Possession charges dismissed in child porn case

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Court of Appeals upholds distribution conviction

By Marty Finley

mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com
An Elizabethtown man convicted in 2008 of distributing child pornography won a small victory in Hardin Circuit Court.
Christopher J. Estrada was back in front of a judge last week, where two counts pending against him of possession of matter portraying sexual relations with a minor were dismissed without prejudice.
The dismissal of the charges by Judge Kelly Mark Easton were likely little consolation as Estrada will have to serve out the remainder of a five-year sentence handed down by Senior Judge Janet Coleman after he was found guilty on one count of  distributing matter portraying the sexual performance of a minor.
Estrada appealed the ruling, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the conviction.
In his appeal, Estrada argued he was deprived a unanimous jury verdict, improperly denied the striking of a juror for cause and argued a directed verdict of acquittal should have been made by Coleman on his behalf.
The appellate court, however, knocked down all three claims. In the case of a unanimous jury verdict, Estrada in his appeal argued that the court did not distinguish if he “exhibit([ed] (the images) for profit or gain,” “had intended to distribute” or had “offered to distribute” the pornography in his possession.    
The Court of Appeals said Estrada failed to prove the jury violated any rules. Also, KRS 531.240 (2) says “any person possessing more than one unit of child pornography is presumed to possess it with the intent to distribute,” according to the court’s ruling
In interviews with police officers, Estrada admitted to possessing more than one unit of child pornography and expressed a desire to establish his own adult website, the court pointed out.
Estrada also argued Coleman erred in failing to strike a juror who informed the judge she taught at the school where Estrada’s son attended. The juror also informed Coleman she pulled the boy’s records to confirm Estrada was his father.
His defense counsel tried to have the juror removed, but Coleman objected because the juror said she did not personally know Estrada and could remain impartial in her decision making.
The Court of Appeals argued loose relationships between a juror and defendant is not immediate grounds for dismissal.
Finally, the court struck down the claim made by Estrada that prosecutors failed to prove he was the only person with access to the computer.
Estrada’s own admittance of ownership of the images negated his argument, the court said.
“It is of no consequence that Estrada claimed he would ‘try to delete’ these images when they were downloaded,” the court stated in its ruling. “As the images were on Estrada’s computer and in his possession, he is presumed by law to have intended to distribute.”
Estrada’s employers contacted the Elizabethtown Police Department in January 2005 when they suspected Estrada was viewing pornography at work. An inspection of his computers by EPD produced in excess of 20,000 images, more than 1,000 of which depicted children in sexual acts, according to court records.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.