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Ohio sex crime sentencing battle headed for third appeal

There is a great deal of disagreement in the federal judicial system when it comes to sentencing individuals convicted on child pornography crimes. As evidence, just look at the case of a 71-year-old Ohio man out of Knox County.

He pleaded guilty in 2009 to a single count of possessing child pornography on his computer. Federal guidelines recommend that judges sentence those convicted on such a charge to from 63 to 78 months in prison. But, exercising his legitimate discretion, the judge sentenced the defendant to one day behind bars and 10 years of supervised probation. 

Prosecutors called that unreasonable and an appeals court agreed. In 2012, it ordered a new, harsher sentence, without saying what it should be.

The second time around, the judge imposed the same one-day sentence and 10 years probation, but ordered the defendant to home confinement for the initial three years of the probation.

In issuing his ruling, the judge noted that the term was in line with what many other federal judges in the country had imposed. He also said the man cares for a sick wife and is in deteriorating health himself. He said he worried that sending the man to prison for the called for in the guidelines would be tantamount a death sentence.

Again, prosecutors appealed and won.

At a hearing yesterday, with a new judge on the case, the man was sentenced to one year and a day of incarceration in a federal prison. After that, he is to serve 10 years of supervised release. The defendant's name is also to be entered on the sex offender registry.

But now, it's the defense's turn to appeal and the man's attorney says that's what he intends to do. He calls the repeated reversals of the sentence an attempt of the appeals court to impose its will on the lower court, which he says is wrong. The hope is that the issue will eventually be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

For now, the defendant remains free pending the outcome of the latest appeal.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Child-porn possessor finally gets harsher sentence: 1 year in prison," Kathy Lynn Gray, Aug. 28, 2014

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