State calls first witness in child pornography trial
Jan 09, 2013 (The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A series of child pornography images authorities said were downloaded by a 37-year-old Bryan man were shown Tuesday to a Brazos County jury by prosecutors on the first day of the man's trial.
Nivlac Simmons is charged with five counts of possessing child pornography, which officials said they located on his computer in 2008 after getting information from an out-of-state FBI agent who inadvertently came upon Simmons' alleged collection of child porn. The agent, John Ford, who was called as the state's first witness, said he was conducting a search for child porn users from his headquarters in Illinois when he came across an account on Limewire that caught his attention because of the high number of files labeled with common terms used by child-porn viewers.
The IP address connected to the peer-to-peer file sharing network traced back to the user account Simmons used on his home computer, according to authorities.
Although Ford said he only downloaded 15 of the files shared by Simmons to confirm they contained child pornography, there were a total of 195 shared files that were titled using phrases often associated with child pornography.
Simmons is being charged for five videos investigators said they found on his home computer.
According to police records, most of the videos depicted preteens in sexually explicit situations with adult males while one showed a naked boy believed to be 5 or 6 years old performing sexual acts on an adult male.
While the videos were not played for jurors, eight of the images collected as evidence were displayed.
As the screen where the images were shown was arranged for jurors, one woman on the panel appeared to say a quick prayer that ended in the sign of the cross.
Prosecutor Jason Goss, who is working alongside assistant district attorney Jessica Escue, told jurors in opening statements that the state had enough evidence to bring the jury to an "inescapable conclusion" -- that Simmons is guilty.
"Child pornography isn't something you stumble into, it's something you have to specifically want and specifically search for," he said.
Goss alluded to the fact that defense attorneys Jim James and David Hilburn likely will try to argue that the child pornography collection belonged to Simmons' wife, which the prosecutor insisted there was evidence to prove otherwise.
While being questioned by Escue, Ford testified that at least two of the child pornography files found on Simmons' Limewire account had children in them who had been identified as victims by advocacy organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
James pointed out in his cross-examination of Ford that any file downloaded through Limewire was automatically stored in the user's shared files folder.
He also questioned Ford about two cases involving female child pornography users in an attempt to show that females could be guilty of using child pornography.
"Things aren't always as they appear," James urged to jurors in opening statements. "There will be an inescapable conclusion -- that this man is not guilty."
Prosecutors are expected to call on the Brazos County Sheriff's Office investigator who worked the case locally as their second witness when the trial resumes Wednesday in the 272nd District Courtroom.
Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
FBI agent first witness for state
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