After two hours the jury returned a conviction of guilty on nine of 10 counts of possession of child pornography in the case of Ennis resident Jeffery Dean Gerron.
Closing arguments for both sides in the punishment phase are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Jan.23.
Ellis County and Assistant District Attorney Seth McCloskey addressed the jury before they retired to make their decision. McCloskey said that Gerron admitted the photos on his computer were his to the agents from Homeland Security, saying “I thought they were legal.” McCloskey argued that common sense said Gerron's actions were lewd, because the acts depicted in the photos themselves were lewd.
Defense Attorney Zach Redington followed McCloskey and charged the jury to use logic in making their decision.
“I ask that you use logic in making your decision today and not with emotion. Set aside emotion and take a look at each image by themselves. Look at the images separately with logic,” Redington said. “You have to make a decision beyond any reasonable doubt. Each element has to be proven.”
Redington said Dr. Jamye Coffman, who examined the 10 photos in the indictment, stated that she could only determine that five of the 10 images were of children under the age of 18.
“Her testimony should give you pause,” Redington said.
Ellis County and Assistant District Attorney Lindy Tober addressed the jury, saying “Remember when I told you that the Internet was the window to the world? The defendant went shopping for children. That is what he did with his time,” Tober said. “There is no other reasons to have these images but for lewd purposes. The internet has allowed this defendant to go into the bedroom of children in Norway and bring them to his home in Ennis.”
Tober said we have laws to protect children because they are precious and they need to be protected. The evidence is undisputed that the defendant had care, custody and control of these images, she said.
Following the return of jury with a verdict, the trial moved from the guilt or innocence phase into the punishment phase. The prosecution submitted into evidence three court documents that showed that Gerron had three previous DWI convictions. County and District Attorney Office Mike Aman was called to testify that the prints on the documents were those of Gerron, which he did.
Homeland Security Computer Forensics investigator Jose Delgado was called again to the stand. Delgado conducted the forensic investigation of Gerron’s computer. McCloskey asked Delgado how many images did he scan from Gerron’s computer. Delgado said he scanned around 500,000 images. Of those images 11,000 images were images that contained children. During the trial only 501 images that were considered to be child pornography were submitted by the prosecution into evidence. Redington passed on asking any questions of Delgado.
The first witness Redington called to the stand was Ellis County probation officer Frankee Velarde. Redington asked about conditions that a person on probation might face as a regular probationer and as a sex offender. Velarde said some of the conditions might include having a curfew, abstain from alcohol, sex offender counseling and no contacts with children under the age of 17. Velarde added these conditions are enforced through polygraphs, home and work checks. If the conditions are violated, the person could be subject to jail time.
Tober then cross-examined Velarde and asked her how many sex offenders had completed probation that she had supervised in her 11 years. Velarde said a few had.
Gerron's mother, Doris was then called to the stand. Doris testified that Gerron, who was adopted, didn’t have any trouble growing up but had a few difficult times. These times included his father passing away when he was 15 years old and being rejected by former girlfriends. One time after a breakup he attempted a suicide, Doris said.
Doris told the court that Gerron is the soul caretaker of her and her sister-in-law, and she does not see the purpose of placing him in prison as he is not a danger.
Tober asked Doris if she sought mental healthcare services for Gerron prior to him being arrested. Doris said she didn’t seek mental health services for him, but did notice a change in his attitude and behavior after the death of his father and breakups with women.
Following Doris' testimony, Dr. Janet Lawhon came before the court. Lawhon has served as Gerron’s psychiatrist for the past two years, treating his depression.
Lawhon said Gerron is a compassionate person who loves animals and cares for his elderly relatives very much.
Redington asked Lawhon if Gerron would be able to do probation if the court granted it. Lawhon said he would, because when Gerron makes up his mind to do something, he does it – like when he quit drinking.
Tober asked Lawhon if she was aware that he was facing possession of child pornography charges when they started their sessions. Lawhon said she was not aware of it, but found out later on. Tober also asked if he admitted to a porn addiction. Tober said he had not.
A family friend of Gerron, Sue Wilson, was called to testify. Wilson reflected Doris' feelings that she thought Gerron was not a danger to anyone. McCloskey asked Wilson if she thought the children in the photos were victimized. Wilson said yes, but Gerron didn’t victimize them.
Gerron’s name was one of many found through a Homeland Security operation in 2006 of a company providing access to users to child pornography websites. An Ellis County Grand Jury indicted Gerron on Feb. 23, 2012 alleging he had images of children younger than 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct.