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State v. Willard

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

July 11, 2013

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
CHRISTOPHER WILLARD DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-555833

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Susan J. Moran

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Brett Kyker Assistant Prosecuting Attorney The Justice Center

BEFORE: Celebrezze, P.J., Kilbane, J., and McCormack, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR, PRESIDING JUDGE.

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Christopher Willard, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying his motion to suppress evidence seized from his residence. After careful review of the record and relevant case law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

I. Factual and Procedural History

{¶2} On March 11, 2011, Detective Brian Berardi of the Lakewood Police Department, prepared an affidavit in support of a search warrant for appellant's residence in Lakewood, Ohio. Specifically, Detective Berardi averred that he had probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity committed in violation of R.C. Chapter 2907 would be recovered from the "computer storage devices" located inside appellant's residence. In his affidavit, Detective Berardi set forth the following facts as the basis for such belief:

Detective Berardi, an 18-year veteran of the Lakewood Police Department, has received training from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, including specialized training in computer evidence based searches and internet predator investigations.
Detective Berardi averred that on February 22, 2011, Charles Willard arrived at the Lakewood Police Department with his three minor sons to make a police report against his brother, appellant. Charles Willard alleged that appellant showed his three sons — ages 16, 13, and 9 — pornographic material on July 23, 2010 while the boys were spending the night at appellant's residence.
Detective Berardi averred that the Lakewood Police Department obtained written statements from each of the boys describing the pornography shown to them by appellant on a computer within appellant's residence. The written statements contained identifying information for each child, including their name, date of birth, address, and phone number.

{¶3} Detective Berardi's affidavit detailed the statements provided by the boys. According to his affidavit, nine-year-old A.W. stated that on the night in question, he was using one of appellant's computers when he heard appellant summon M.V. over to another computer. A.W. stated that when he looked at the computer appellant was showing M.V., he observed several nude males. On seeing the images, he said "that's gross" and ran away. Z.W., who was 13 at the time, stated that on the night in question, appellant showed him and his brothers images and websites depicting men and women engaging in oral sex and vaginal intercourse. In doing so, appellant instructed him and his brothers not to tell their parents about what he was showing them.

{¶ 4} M.V., who was 16 at the time, stated that on the night in question, appellant called him and Z.W. over to his computer and asked if they had ever watched pornography. When the boys stated that they had not, appellant showed them video images of a man and a woman engaging in oral sex and two nude men kissing.

{¶ 5} Detective Berardi further averred that he ran a criminal records check on appellant, which revealed a prior conviction for pandering obscenities involving a minor.

{¶6} After careful review of Detective Berardi's affidavit, a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judge issued a search warrant authorizing the Lakewood Police Department to search appellant's residence and all "electronic storage devices" located therein. Detective Berardi executed the search warrant on March 14, 2011, and seized, among other things, a number of computers and computer storage devices. The evidence was later examined by members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, who discovered child pornography files on the computer devices.

{ΒΆ 7} Based on the evidence seized pursuant to the search warrants, appellant was indicted ...


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