Federal court reinstates child porn conviction of Tupelo man

djournal-Court-News2JACKSON (AP) – The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the conviction of a Tupelo man on federal child pornography charges.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit issued the decision Tuesday and returned the case to Mississippi for sentencing.

In 2012, James William Smith sought a new trial in a child pornography case arguing that the court made numerous errors. Instead, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock in Aberdeen threw out the conviction and acquitted Smith of the charges.

Smith had been convicted of one count of possessing child pornography. The indictment in the case said Smith had movies of child porn on his work computer in Tupelo in 2011.

Aycock said the government failed to prove Smith knew the images were on the computer.

The government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Smith knowingly possessed the illegal materials found on his computer, Aycock said, adding it is just as likely that the other person downloaded the child pornography onto the computer, as Smith did.

Smith faced up to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

The 5th Circuit panel said the evidence supported the Mississippi jury’s guilty verdict.

“We conclude that the prosecution presented sufficient evidence such that the jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Smith downloaded the files and knew what he was downloading. Given that the nature of the files and the interstate transport are not in dispute, the evidence is thus sufficient to sustain a conviction of knowing possession of child pornography,” the panel said.

The panel said courts have found that even when a computer is shared and illegal files are found a jury could reasonably conclude that the owner and possessor of the computer would be aware of at least some of the images on his computer.