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State v. Ragan

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 27, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs January 10, 2017

          Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2013-D-3065 Monte D. Watkins, Judge

          A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Teddy Reece Ragan, of sexual exploitation of a minor, and the trial court sentenced him to a ten-year sentence to be served at 100% in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court improperly admitted the Defendant's prior conviction for violation of the sex offender registry, and that the trial court erred by failing to charge the jury with attempted sexual exploitation of a minor. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Elaine A. Heard (at trial) and David Harris (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Teddy Reece Ragan.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; Roger Moore, Deputy District Attorney General; and Alyissa C. Henning, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J. and Robert L. Holloway, J., joined.



         I. Facts

         A. Trial

         This case arises from the Defendant's possession of child pornography found on his computer. Based on this conduct, a Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant for two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, where the number of images possessed exceeds one hundred. [1] The following evidence was presented at the Defendant's trial: Maria Sexton testified that she worked on the Sex Offender Registry Unit at the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and that she came in contact with the Defendant when she went to his residence to speak with his roommate, Howard Pardee. While she was meeting with the Defendant's roommate, Detective Sexton asked the Defendant if he had a computer and if there was child pornography on it. The Defendant replied that he "mostly look[ed] at adult pornography" and that it was "hard to say" whether he had any child pornography on his computer. Based on this conversation, Detective Sexton contacted the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force ("ICAC Unit"). On cross-examination, Detective Sexton agreed that the

         Defendant's roommate was a sex offender.

         Michael Adkins testified that he worked for the ICAC Unit dealing with all sexual exploitation of a minor cases in Davidson County. Officer Adkins responded to the Defendant's residence after receiving a report from Detective Sexton. Officer Adkins had a conversation with the Defendant, which was recorded, after Officer Adkins read the Defendant his Miranda rights. The recorded interview was played aloud for the jury. In it, the Defendant stated that, when he looked at pornography, there was "likely" to be minors mixed in with adult pornography. Officer Adkins questioned the Defendant about whether he was "searching" on the internet for child pornography. The Defendant listed the websites he used to look at pornography on the internet and stated that the "categories" he chose on the websites were "lesbians, threesomes, gang bang, " and "straight sex." The Defendant stated that he bought the computer six months prior from a pawn shop for two hundred dollars. The Defendant was unsure whether the computer was protected by a password. The Defendant said that his internet search history contained searches for "Lolita." Officer Adkins explained that this word is "strictly used for child pornography." The Defendant denied knowing that child pornography was linked with this search term. The Defendant agreed that some of the girls in the pornography he viewed did not appear to be eighteen years old. He also agreed that some of the videos and images saved on his computer had girls in them that looked underage. The Defendant stated that he downloaded the images and videos from "all over" the internet. He denied sharing the videos with others on the internet. The Defendant agreed that "a bunch" of the images were saved in his "favorite" folder on his computer. The Defendant said that he knew there were images on the computer of girls under the age of eighteen. He stated that "some" of the images were already on the computer when he bought it, but he also stated that he had looked at the "teens" sections of pornography websites. The Defendant stated that, other than himself, his roommate "Howard" was the only other person who had used the computer; he denied that his other roommate, Kenneth Mills, ever used the computer. Following the interview, Officer Adkins seized the Defendant's laptop computer and executed a search warrant on it.

         On cross-examination, Officer Adkins stated that it seemed clear to him during the interview that the Defendant was describing searching for adult and child pornography on the internet.

         Chad Gish testified that he worked on the Surveillance Investigative Support Unit at the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department extracting evidence from digital devices. Detective Gish said he performed an extraction on the Defendant's computer and found child pornography videos and images. He also identified the Defendant's internet search history saved on the computer which consisted of several "immediately recognizable" child pornography search terms, including a search for child pornography on the day the Defendant's computer was seized. Detective Gish found approximately two hundred child pornography images on the Defendant's computer and approximately fifty videos. A sampling of the images and videos was shown to the jury. Detective Gish testified that he found adult pornography on the Defendant's computer as well and a representative sample of those images were shown to the jury.

         The State closed its proof. The Defendant testified that he was sixty-nine years old and that the images shown at trial were not his. He stated that he did not own a computer and that three other people were staying in the house with him. He then stated that "the images that's on my computer came" from Kenneth Mills's phone. He stated that Mr. Mills looked at the images while the Defendant was in the hospital having an operation and that Mr. Mills had turned the Defendant into the District Attorney and tried to "railroad" him. The Defendant stated that he and his roommate, also being prosecuted for possessing child pornography, were paying the price for what Mr. ...

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