Child porn charges against Clarks Summit man dismissed

A judge threw out charges of child pornography against a Clarks Summit man because police said the man threw his computer into a lake, destroying information on it.

Prosecutors failed to prove that Marcus Blankenship, 27, 805 Poplar St., possessed child pornography, Magis-terial District Judge Paul Ware said Tuesday when he dismissed three counts of disseminating photos or film of child sex acts and three counts of child pornography against Mr. Blankenship at preliminary hearing.

The charges follow a state attorney general’s Child Predator Section investigation. On Aug. 28, Special Agent Justin Leri identified a unique network address, known as an Internet Protocol, registered to Mr. Blankenship associated with 35 files, at least one of which was identified as possible child pornography. The investigator connected directly to Mr. Blankenship’s computer and downloaded 10 images.

With a warrant, Mr. Leri and Supervisory Special Agent Kurt Smith searched Mr. Blankenship’s home on Oct. 16, but did not find any child pornography. Mr. Blankenship first told the investigators he had never seen child pornography. After a call to his father he changed his story and told police he had downloaded the images. He felt bad about it, so he threw his laptop into Lake Wallenpaupack.

“He said the guilt was too much and he didn’t want to do it anymore,” Agent Smith testified.

During the hearing, the state attorney general’s office argued the downloaded images from Mr. Blankenship’s IP address, and his admission of guilt, established enough evidence to send him to trial for the child pornography charges. Judge Ware disagreed, but held the remaining count of criminal use of a communication facility. That charge stems from the images associated with his IP address.

No trial date has been set. Mr. Blankenship is free on $40,000 bail.

source:http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/child-porn-charges-against-clarks-summit-man-dismissed-1.1816627