SD Supreme Court Hears Child Porn Case
by Jill Johnson
March 18, 2013 5:12 PM
The South Dakota Supreme Court was hearing several different cases in Vermillion on Monday. One of them was about a child pornography case out of Custer County. In July 2010, James Riley of Hermosa was convicted on one count of child pornography and sentenced to eight years in prison. On Monday, the high court heard his appeal.
It was in October 2009, that a dectective with the Minnehaha County Sheriff's office was conducting an undercover investigation to locate people who were distributing or possessed child pornography. Using software, the detective found an IP address, which had titles of files relating to child porn, linked to James Riley's name and address in Hermosa.
Riley's Attorney Paul Winter says, "He has no idea who is on the other end. He doesn't know who is there and he doesn't know what device he's looking into."
However, the detective was able to download and view the files. One video contained child pornography, but the other could only partially be downloaded and did not portray any porn. They obtained a warrant to search Riley's home in January 2010. But neither he or his computer were there. They tell his girlfriend that they will be back to search in the morning.
Winter says, "They tell her don't tell him but we're coming back, and she does tell him."
Riley's girlfriend testifies that Riley told her his computer crashed while he was out of town and had to reinstall the operating system. Evidence shows he did it an hour before detectives arrived. And when they arrived the next day, the prosecution says Riley did admit to something.
Prosecutor Timothy Barnaud says, "The defendent denied seeing the full length video and when he was asked about the files on his computer, he stated, it's gone."
However, Riley's attorney says after searching Riley's computer, thumb drives, DVD's and an MP3 player, no child pornography was found. Detectives did find portions of file names that were generated during the detectives investigation that suggests child porn had existed on Riley's computer, which they say is enough for a conviction.
Barnaud says, "You would have to actively possess this. This isn't something that could pop up on your computer or appear in some magical way. He had to go out and find it."
A conclusion that won't be decided just yet. It is typical for the South Dakota Supreme Court to hand down their decision within a few months of hearing arguments.