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Columbia man convicted on child porn charges

Friday, December 19, 2008 | 7:38 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A Boone County jury found a Columbia man guilty of possession and promotion of child pornography on Friday, suggesting he be sentenced to seven years in prison for promotion and four years for possession.

Clarence Arthur Tremaine, 33, was accused of having about 17 videos on his computer depicting children between ages 8 and 12 “of both genders and in various sexual acts.” He was also accused of sharing those videos over an Internet file-sharing program.

The verdict came after more than four hours of deliberation during the second day of the trial and about 15 minutes after the jurors sent a note hinting they might be hung on one count.

Leaving the courthouse Friday evening after the verdict was read, Tremaine’s lawyer, public defender Tony Manansala, said he planned to appeal but declined to give further details.

Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane is scheduled to sentence Tremaine on Feb. 2, 2009. Keeping with the jury’s recommendation, he could sentence Tremaine to up to 11 years in prison.

Tremaine testified in his own defense Friday, saying he couldn’t read or write and didn’t even know how to use LimeWire, the file-sharing program that he was accused of using to download child pornography.

Manansala asked him, “Did you download child pornography?”

“Well, that’s the thing,” Tremaine answered. “I don’t think that I did. Most of the time, I just push buttons.”

The defense’s argument throughout the trial was that many people had access to Tremaine’s computer because he threw a lot of parties at his home for friends he met at bars. Tremaine testified Friday that someone whose name he thought was “Gary” set up LimeWire on his computer and had to come over repeatedly to fix it.

During the trial, Tremaine referred to himself as an alcoholic, and Manansala described him as “mentally retarded;” he later amended the description to “low-level intelligence.”

Manansala again criticized Boone County Sheriff’s Detective Andy Anderson, who is the coordinator of the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force, for not reading Tremaine his rights when he went to his home to serve a search warrant.  Anderson testified Thursday that Tremaine admitted to downloading child pornography, but Manansala argued that these statements shouldn’t be allowed because Tremaine didn’t know his rights.

“He asked if I had a computer, and I said, ‘Yes,’” Tremaine testified on Friday. “He asked if he could come inside, and I said, ‘Yes.’ He just kept asking questions, and every time I tried to answer he didn’t want to hear what I was saying.”

Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Merilee Crockett then re-called Anderson, who had testified Thursday. Anderson reiterated that, when Tremaine admitted to downloading child pornography, Tremaine was not a suspect and was free to leave, so he was not obligated to read Tremaine his rights.

During her closing argument, Crockett said that Tremaine’s testimony showed that he knew how to use LimeWire and how to access the file folders where investigators found child pornography.

“Their strategy, yesterday and today, is to try to make you feel sorry for him because he’s not very smart,” Crockett told the jury. “Don’t let him fool you and try to pull sympathy from you to get you to think he didn’t know what he was doing.”

Manansala countered during his closing argument that Tremaine did not intentionally set up his computer to share child pornography over LimeWire. The program’s default setting is to allow sharing, he said, and a user would have to find the settings box and uncheck it to avoid sharing.

“Don’t be fooled by the prosecution that a person with a special education background could find (the settings box),” he said.

He also urged the jury not to be quick to convict after watching two minutes of graphic child pornography in court Thursday.

“I told you before,” he said, “don’t be guilted into a guilty verdict. I know those videos are horrendous. … Don’t get me wrong, child pornography is wrong, and it’s good we have laws against it. But don’t convict an innocent person.”

At about 12:30 p.m., jurors sent Crane a note asking for “all paper evidence." A little more than two hours later, they sent a note asking if being hung on one count affected the outcome of the other count, sparking talk of a hung jury. But just fifteen minutes later, jurors delivered the guilty verdicts.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Crane told the jury, “this has been a tough case right before Christmas. The content of this case was tough. I know it’s something you’re probably never going to forget completely. … Go home and relax. Hug your loved ones.”

Tremaine requested a furlough so he could spend Christmas with his loved ones – two young daughters – but Crane denied his request.


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