Warrant error prompts dismissal of child porn charges against ex-deputy Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/crime_and_courts/warrant-error-prompts-dismissal-of-child-porn-charges-against-ex/article_f04f461e-44ae-50b6-b19b-ca99cf9d429c.html#ixzz3OuBF3fim

Child pornography possession charges against a former Dane County sheriff’s deputy were dismissed Wednesday after a judge ruled that there was a fatal cut-and-paste error on a search warrant that led to the discovery of the illegal images on the deputy’s computers.

Dane County Circuit Judge John Markson ruled that in fashioning a search warrant for the home of former deputy Jeffrey C. Hilgers, 43, investigators inadvertently used a paragraph which stated that they were seeking child pornography, and not one specifying a search for evidence of an illicit relationship between Hilgers and a woman who was serving a jail sentence at home on electronic monitoring.

The error was insurmountable, Markson said, so he had to suppress the search warrant along with a subsequent search warrant that was issued after child pornography was initially discovered.

Hilgers was charged in August with sexual assault by correctional staff and seven counts of possessing child pornography. A criminal complaint states that Hilgers and the woman met while she was in jail in 2013 and he was a jail deputy, and that they began dating after meeting again following her placement in a home electronic monitoring program.

Hilgers’ lawyer, Brian Hough, asked that the sexual assault charge be dismissed, but Markson on Wednesday denied the motion.

Markson found, however, that a search warrant used to search Hilgers’ home for evidence of the relationship, along with a second search warrant to examine computers for additional child pornography, had to be suppressed. And with the suppression of those two warrants, the seven counts of child pornography were dismissed.

“I do think that likely what happened was a result of cutting and pasting by using a warrant from a different case that involved child pornography,” Markson said, agreeing with an explanation for the error provided earlier by Deputy District Attorney Michelle Viste.

Markson said the warrant, signed on June 3, 2013, by Circuit Judge Ellen Berz, authorized a search for child pornography, not for evidence of a sexual relationship between Hilgers and the woman, as it should have.

Two computers that were seized at Hilgers’ home and searched as a result of the warrant were found to contain child pornography. A second search warrant signed by another judge about a week later authorized the continued search of the computers for additional child pornography images.

Viste said after the hearing that the suppression of the search warrants would not affect the sexual assault case, because no evidence related to that charge was uncovered as a result of the search.

The motion by Hough to dismiss the sexual assault charge was his second attempt. In October, another Dane County judge ruled, like Markson, that as long as the woman remained under the control of the Dane County Jail and was serving a sentence, where she served that sentence was irrelevant, and that Hilgers as a jail deputy was in a position of power over her.

Hilgers and the woman have since married.