By Carlin Ross
WOODLAND – Yolo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Mock Thursday began a motion to dismiss hearing for defendant Tyler Ryan Garabato, facing three charges in his felony child pornography case while protected by his face shield on Zoom.
But Judge Mock wasn’t only interested in his protection, but also in protecting the underaged minors involved in Garabato’s child pornography case.
Garabato’s preliminary hearing was in July of 2019. It concluded with a 15-page motion, a 12-page opposition, and 60 pages of testimony. Now, over a year later, Judge Mock, alongside Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hayes and Deputy Public Defender James Bradford, stated he was “prepared to rule on the motion.”
First, the judge distinguished that the evidence involved two discrete groups of sexually explicit images or videos. The first group contained 1800+ images and videos of child pornography, found on a website called BitTorrent. The second group was associated with a Kik account where the defendant adopted a fake name, Jane Doe, and associated Jane Doe with photos of an unclothed woman.
Judge Mock noted that “based on the evidence, it’s clear at least [Jane Doe’s] breasts were exposed in these images.”
Grouped with the Kik account in evidence were texts from the defendant, posing as Jane Doe, soliciting images of individuals he identified as minors in it.
As Judge Mock repeatedly commented throughout the motion, none of the images involved in Garabato’s case were submitted as evidence. Therefore, the judge had to rely on the written testimony in this matter. With that, he made a challenge to Count 1, violation of Penal Code section 311.10(a), advertising for sale or distribution of obscene matter knowing that it depicts a person under the age of 18.
In this charge, the Kik evidence was considered. As Deputy Public Defender Jose Ceron pointed out previously, the defendant believed Jane Doe was in her 20s when selecting his female images. Although the defendant had sold photos of Jane Doe, 10 for $10, Garaboto’s testimony claimed that she wasn’t a minor.
Without photographic evidence of Jane Doe, to deduce if the images were obscene, or evidence that the defendant intended to share the pornographic images he solicited from others, Judge Mock saw no violation of section 311.10(a).
But this was only the first of three charges of seven felony charges to be challenged. Garabato was also being charged for the violation of Penal Code sections 311.11(c)(2), 311.4(b), 311.1(b), 311.11(c)(1), two counts of 311.1(a).
Next, Judge Mock moved to challenge Count 3, a violation of PC section 311.4(b), engaging minors to participate in sexual conduct for commercial purposes.
Lastly, Judge Mock made a challenge to a violation of PC section 311.2(b), the knowing distribution of obscene matter showing sexual conduct of a minor. Both 1800+ images and Kik accounts were considered here.
According to experts, it was part of the BitTorrent website’s protocol to allow other users to share any files. Moreover, there was an automatic sharing feature. While the defendant understood the files “could and would be shared with other people,” there was “nothing” to say the “defendant intended to distribute those photos for any commercial purpose at all,” concluded Judge Mock.
With regard to the Kik account and PC section 311.2(b), the judge deduced the court had “no reason to conclude the photos were child pornography without evidence,” and “no basis to conclude [the defendant] intended to sell or trade those particular images.”
In summary, Judge Mock set aside Counts 1, 3, and 4 of the information. However, Garabato still faces four charges and a trial readiness conference on Oct. 28 in Yolo County Department 14.
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