The jury in the trial of Ennis resident Jeffery Gerron sentenced him to nine years in prison for each of the nine counts of possession of child pornography on Friday afternoon. Judge Bob Carroll ruled that each sentence would run consecutively, one after another, for a total of 81 years.
Before the jury was sent out to deliberate Carroll provided the jury with sentencing options. Carroll told jury they could recommend 2-10 years imprisonment for each count and recommend probation. Also they could assess a fine up to $10,000. Following the judge's instructions closing arguments given by both the prosecution and the defense.
Ellis County and District Assistant Attorney Seth McCloskey told the jury that need to consider all of the evidence when making a decision on punishment. McCloskey said the punishment needs to fit the crime, because of the children who were victimized in this case.
Following McCloskey, Defense Attorney Zach Redington addressed the jury and asked them to consider giving Gerron probation on each count. Redington told the jury that the photos display lewd exhibitions not any other type of sexual conduct.
“Jeff did not take the photos, groom these girls or start a relationship with them. There is no evidence that shows he had made contact through a chat room. Jeff has not had any inappropriate relationships because the prosecution would have presented it,” Redington said. “Jeff had a rough life growing up. He was abandoned by is birth parents and had his father die at a young age. To insinuate that he is some perverted monster is sick.”
Redington said for the state to say Jeff is unable of change is not true due to the fact that he has been sober for the last 11 years.
“No matter the punishment you the jury decided to give, he will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. Probation is punishment and it is difficult,” Redington said. “People that take photos of young girls or groom them deserve to penitentiary. Premeditation does not happen when you click on a link or view a picture.”
Redington pleaded with the jurors asking them to sentence Gerron for only one coutn, or give him probation – for the sake of his mother and aunt, who he solely supports.
Tober followed Redington and asked the jury to give Gerron the full 10 years for each one of the nine counts of possession of child pornography.
“If there were only 10 photos you could consider the minimum, but he had 11,000 images of children. Let's not forget why he had them. Let's not forget he was a teacher and had access to children,” Tober said. “People have tragedies in their lives, but they do not turn to child porn. You can’t believe for a minute that he will be successful on probation.”
Tober said his mother has enabled him because when federal agents took his computer, she went and bought him another one. Tober added that Gerron didn’t go to his psycologist for child porn, he went for depression because of legal problems.
“You can tell what is in his mind and in his heart. That is someone that is depraved,” “Take him out of our community for as long as you possibly can,” Tober said. “These girls are victims, and not to say that they are no victimized by him is offensive to them.”
Tober added and asked the jury if Gerron remained in the community, would they want to be his neighbor. She then answered the question for them replying, “I don’t think you do.”
After the sentence was read to the court, Redington asked Carroll to stack the sentences, giving Gerron a sentence of nine years total. Before reading the final judgment Carroll provided a final thought to the court.
“In determining the sentence are there enough deterrents and protections to keep potential victims safe?,” Carroll said. “The message from this courtroom, going into every internet portal, must be clear that if you engage in this conduct you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
The sentence Gerron received on Friday totals 81 years. During the four-day trial Gerron showed little emotion but once the final sentence was given he appeared to be shaken up. Gerron is eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of each term, however the terms are consecutive, so he must serve at least one-fourth of all nine before being released.
“We are definitely pleased with the result. This is a very difficult subject matter for us and particularly any jury member who does not deal with this on a regular basis,” Tober said. “So we appreciate them sticking with us and staying with us throughout the course of the trial and looking at things that they didn’t want to see and hearing about things that they didn’t want to hear about. It was important that they do. There is a reason why we do this. It is all about protecting the children whether it is children in our county or children around the world. We appreciate what they did.”
County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson commented on the verdict after the trial concluded.
“Child pornography victimizes real children in the pursuit of a deviant desire. We proved that in this case through the testimony of a Norwegian police officer. Because of the internet child pornography has become an insidious crime from which the victims can never be free,” Wilson said. “Once they are abused and exploited the victims’ images are forever traded on cyberspace by depraved individuals like Gerron. This verdict and sentence sends a powerful message for the protection of children.”