A Commerce man convicted recently by a Jackson County Superior Court jury of molesting six boys from 2011 to 2019 was sentenced Wednesday to 100 years in prison.
The sentence was imposed on Steven Michael “Mike” Blackmon, 57, who had lived in Commerce about 12 years before his arrest in 2019.
Blackmon has previously lived in Alabama and Tennessee, where he also was investigated for inappropriate behavior with young boys.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching guilty verdicts on 26 counts in the 31-count indictment, with charges ranging from aggravated child molestation and sexual exploitation of children to enticing a child for indecent purposes.
The trial was conducted over three days before Superior Court Judge Nick Primm, who also ordered that if paroled at any point, Blackmon must remain on probation for the rest of his life.
“We hope this brings some peace to the families that he affected so this won’t happen to anybody else again,” said Piedmont Circuit Assistant District Attorney Erica Shepley, who prosecuted the case alongside District Attorney Brad Smith.
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During the trial, Blackmon testified in his defense, denying he had molested the boys.
The allegations against Blackmon surfaced in the fall of 2019, when Shepley said that one boy “immediately reported what happened and that’s how everything unfolded.”
Prosecutors were able to introduce evidence that Blackmon had pleaded guilty in 1992 to five counts of second-degree sexual abuse of two boys in Huntsville, Ala.
Alabama authorities said Blackmon was a neighbor of the boys who involved himself in sports the boys played, and that he purchased them gifts such as expensive baseball cards, according to the court document.
The Commerce Police Department also showed in their investigation that Blackmon had access to young boys by volunteering to help with a baseball team. He had also set up a pitching machine in his backyard for the boys, according to police.
Also as a result of the investigation, police found that while Blackmon was living in Memphis, Tenn., he owned a business called “Hockey Stop Memphis,” and he also coached youth hockey. Police encouraged any victims to contact Memphis police in regard to any allegations. The Associated Press reported that one person in Memphis did tell Commerce police that he was molested by Blackmon.
While charges have not been made in Memphis, Shepley said the FBI at one point was considering charging him with a federal crime.
Although documents were not shown to the jury, prosecutors had employment information on Blackmon showing that he was fired for inappropriate conduct while employed by a private contractor based in Houston, Texas, for a job in Iraq from 2005 to 2007.
The documents show he admitted to having sexual relations with an Iraqi while on the job and had transported contraband outside U.S. jurisdiction while working there. Blackmon was seen by a coworker engaged in the sex act after which Blackmon admitted it happened numerous times, according to the records.
The state also possessed 872 photos of juveniles who were nude or engaged in sex acts that were seized in Blackmon’s small brick home on Maysville Road in Commerce. While these photos were not submitted as evidence, the prosecution did provide facts on where the images were located and a general description.
Blackmon was arrested on Oct. 21, 2019, after he was questioned by Commerce police detectives Lt. Lisa Griebel and Justin Ferguson.
“So Mike, do you have any idea why we have you here to speak with us today,” Griebel asked shortly after the session began, according to a transcript filed with the court.
“My income tax issue,” he quickly responded.
After some small talk, Griebel, told him they were investigating the inappropriate touching of a boy. The boy and another boy had spent the night at Blackmon’s home.
Blackmon quickly denied any inappropriate conduct with the boy, but admitted he had been questioned about similar conduct in 1991 in Alabama.
During an extended interview, Griebel asked a general question on why would someone touch a child inappropriately.
“Well, there’s some pretty sick people out there. I mean, you see it on the news all the time,” he replied.
When the conversation turned to the boy’s allegation that night, Griebel noted the youth said he told Blackmon he wanted to call his mother and was told he couldn’t.
Blackmon denied this happened.
Finally, Griebel told Blackmon, “You are not being honest with me because I’ve seen the medical exam results and what he is saying is the truth. You were in bed with him and something happened that he feels he was violated.”
Ferguson also questioned Blackmon again, expressing the opinion that Blackmon was lying.
Griebel asked Blackmon what he felt should happen to a person who molests a child.
“I think that should be a pretty severe punishment,” Blackmon said, minutes before he would be jailed on the charges.