CLEARFIELD – A Frenchville man’s child pornography trial got under way Tuesday in Clearfield County Court before Judge Paul E. Cherry, and the case will go to the jury on Wednesday.
Dennis Paul Hudgens, 68, is charged by the Pennsylvania State Police with 50 counts of child pornography and one count of conspiracy.
District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. is prosecuting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Hudgens is being represented by defense attorney Joshua Maines.
Cpl. John Sours of the PSP Computer Crime Unit testified that on Oct. 16, 2018, he discovered someone sharing files of child pornography on the Internet using an IP address that was serviced through Verizon.
He issued an administrative subpoena to Verizon for the subscriber information and then traced this IP address to a Keewaydin Road address in Covington Township, Clearfield County.
Trooper Nathan Brown of the PSP Bureau of Criminal Investigations’ Computer Crime Task Force said a search warrant was executed on the residence on Dec. 20, 2018.
He said no one answered the door; however, Hudgens was located in a camping tent he lived in nearby. He agreed to speak with the trooper inside his unmarked unit.
As a routine safety protocol, troopers conducted a “pat-down” search of Hudgens, at which point something small could be felt inside his pants pocket.
Brown said Hudgens removed an SD card and turned it over. When he was interviewed on-scene, Hudgens said he was unaware of any illegal content being downloaded from the Internet there.
Brown said Hudgens claimed his “buddy,” Anthony J. Terrizzi, downloaded movies for him to watch in his tent at night, and he’d removed the SD card for Terrizzi to load it with more.
Brown also said Hudgens initially claimed he’d never viewed child pornography but later changed his story, saying he had, but it was a long time ago.
Cpl. Bernard Novak, supervisor of the PSP Northwest Region Crime Unit, testified that upon examination, investigators located over 5,000 image and video files containing child pornography on the SD card that Hudgens had in his possession.
Also, he said a laptop, which was recovered from Hudgens’ tent, contained a “CP” folder on its desktop with roughly 3,000 image and video files containing child pornography.
A presentation of 100 images was shown to the jury, with each image remaining on the screen for approximately five to six seconds. During the approximate 10-minute presentation, several jurors turned away, appeared sickened and one woman even wept.
Novak said throughout the interview process, Hudgens changed his story multiple times. He told jurors that initially Hudgens said he’d never viewed child pornography, then he had, but it was a long time ago and lastly, he’d seen child pornography on the seized laptop.
After being pressed to be honest because Terrizzi had already “spilled the beans,” Novak said Hudgens admitted he’d not only seen child pornography on the laptop, but that its “CP” folder was also “loaded” with it.
He said Hudgens related that Terrizzi was a registered sex offender on state parole, and that he (Terrizzi) had told him the night before (Dec. 19, 2018) he was worried about getting locked up again.
According to Novak, Hudgens said Terrizzi wasn’t even permitted to possess computers, external storage devices, etc., which is why Terrizzi brought him the laptop with the SD chip inside.
Novak said Hudgens admitted that he’d removed the SD card from the laptop and placed it in his pants pocket in order to protect his friend from prosecution by law enforcement.
When investigators examined the seized electronic devices including Hudgens’ cell phone and the SD card, Novak said there was evidence of file sharing software, and he believed the two men were sharing devices and transferring content back and forth.
Under cross-examination, Maines asked Novak if investigators were able to locate a known victim. Novak said they were because Hudgens related that Terrizzi showed him pornographic images/videos he had produced of a 10-year-old girl he knew.
Under questioning by Shaw, Novak said investigators recovered over 100 still image and video files of this victim from the SD card that Hudgens had in his possession on the day of the search warrant’s execution.
Hudgens took the witness stand in his own defense Tuesday afternoon, claiming he wasn’t “computer savvy” and that Terrizzi downloaded movies, television shows, etc., and transferred them to the SD card for him to watch on the laptop in his tent.
He claimed he’d neither personally downloaded any files into a desktop folder on the computer, nor transferred any onto the SD card. This, he said, was done solely by Terrizzi.
He also claimed that he neither used file sharing software, nor downloaded any child pornography with it. “I wouldn’t even know how to look it up,” he testified.
Hudgens said because Terrizzi had to meet his parole officer at the police station Dec. 20 and was afraid the cops may show up, he took the SD card.
He said he didn’t know what was on it and didn’t ask. “I didn’t know nothing until they (state police) showed up” …. “if I did, I would’ve thrown it in the trash … and you would’ve never found it.”
During the cross-examination, Shaw and Hudgens got into a heated exchange. When he answered the district attorney’s questions about denying his knowledge of the child pornography, Hudgens repeatedly added unsolicited commentary and accused Shaw of trying to “railroad” him by taking things out of context.
Because Hudgens also interrupted Shaw’s line of questioning and Shaw started yelling over him, Cherry sternly admonished Hudgens several times for his behavior.
Shaw called Novak back to the stand during rebuttal. He told jurors that Hudgens only offered some information about the 10-year-old victim after he was advised he was being arrested for possession of child pornography.
Novak said Hudgens immediately wanted to “strike a deal” with the District Attorney’s Office in writing, so that he could be released that night. He said Hudgens was only guaranteed “consideration,” and nothing beyond that.
Closing arguments will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Courtroom No. 2 at the Clearfield County Courthouse. Cherry will then instruct jurors on the law and send them into their deliberations.