E. Helenan’s child porn conviction upheld

2013-09-24T08:50:00Z 2013-09-26T16:11:13Z E. Helenan’s child porn conviction upheldBy EVE BYRON Independent Record The Billings Gazette
September 24, 2013 8:50 am  • 

An East Helena man will remain in a federal prison for the next 40 years after an appeals court upheld his 2012 child pornography conviction.

Kevin Sheldon, 51, was found guilty of sexual exploitation of minors and receipt of child pornography after he convinced two preteen girls to make pornographic videos.

Their stepmother found videos on one girl’s electronic media player and called law enforcement officials. They allegedly found numerous images of the girls engaged in sexual conduct.

The girls told a sheriff’s deputy that Sheldon showed them how to make the videos and showed them pornography and child pornography. Upon investigation, a computer found in Sheldon’s residence turned up 23 images of images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. On the portable hard drive found in Sheldon’s residence during the search, there were 18 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

They include minors engaged in a lascivious exhibition, including adults engaged in sexual intercourse with children.

Sheldon had a previous federal conviction related to child pornography and was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell to 480 months in prison.

His attorney, David Ness, raised three challenges to Sheldon’s conviction. He said the government was required to prove that he knew the materials used to produce the child pornography had crossed state lines; that Lovell abused his

discretion by allowing the prior child pornography conviction to be admitted as evidence; and that the evidence was insufficient for a rational jury to find him guilty.

“Those arguments lack merit,” wrote Richard Clifton, one of the three appeals court judges who considered the appeal.

First, he notes that the government wasn’t required to prove that Sheldon knew the child pornography was produced with materials that had traveled in interstate commerce; the government merely needed to prove that the recorder used to produce the videos in Montana was manufactured elsewhere. In this case, testimony at the trial showed the recorder was from China.

Clifton goes on to write that in a criminal case alleging that a person committed child molestation, a court can admit evidence of prior child pornography convictions without disclosing the details to the jury.

As for the third argument, the appeals panel simply stated that having reviewed the evidence presented to the jury, they agreed with the verdict. Both girls testified at his trial, saying Sheldon showed them pornography on the Internet and told them to make their own videos, without clothing, which they did.

Since there is no parole in the federal system, it’s likely that Sheldon will serve all of the time imposed by the court, making him 91 when he’s released. He can earn a sentence reduction for good behavior, but that can’t exceed 15 percent — in this case, up to six years — of the overall sentence. Upon release, he’ll be supervised for the rest of his life by a probation officer.

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or eve.byron@helenair.com

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