After a week of selecting jurors for the Peter Mallory trial, a jury was impaneled Tuesday and the prosecution for the trial gave opening arguments Wednesday.
The jury pool, which began with 42 potential jurors, was narrowed down to three men and 11 women Tuesday afternoon.
The jurors were selected after a series of private interviews amongst the attorneys in the case.
In his opening statements, prosecuting attorney Kevin McMurry told jurors that much of the evidence that will be shown they will want to forget, and may even see as evil. He then gave the following account of the series of events leading up to the arrest of Mallory:
He described how on Feb. 21, 2011, LaGrange Police Detective Chris Pritchett found 621 files of child pornography from the Internet by using the program Internet Crimes Against Children service. The files were traced to an IP address leading to a computer at 211 Fort Drive, the location of Mallory’s TV station TV-33.
Pritchett then relayed the news to a few other police investigators and also Chief Lou Dekmar, who also was a friend of Mallory. Dekmar then summoned Mallory to the police department on an “urgent matter” to let him know about the investigation, and a team of officers were deployed to Mallory’s station to prevent anyone from messing with any evidence.
Dekmar said that Mallory seemed to be visibly upset and deemed it to be an embarrassing situation. Mallory gave consent for officers to search the station.
McMurry went on to say that Mallory directed officers to start searching computers that were located in the studio area of the station, away from his office. Mallory led Scott Lewis, an information technology administrator for the city of LaGrange, to a computer in the newsroom, while Pritchett and Detective William Nelson were led to computers away from his office. Detective Wayne Cato was assigned to watch Mallory while the searched was going on and recorded their conversation in the process.
Mallory allegedly sat at his desk and asked for permission to turn on a fan because it was hot. With Cato’s consent, Mallory got on the floor under his desk to plug the fan. He asked for Cato to help juggle wires, but Cato decided to step to the side of the desk where Mallory was and saw him pulling a hard drive from the computer.
“Come on out. Mallory pulled a hard drive from the computer,” Cato yelled to the assisting detectives in other areas of the station, according to McMurry.
A jump drive referred to as WD 500 in evidence is what they say began the investigation. After Lewis was able to look at WD 500 he saw files of child pornography and images of children being bound and sexually assaulted.
Another key piece of evidence in the case was a locked toolbox that was found in Mallory’s office. They used the key, which was on Mallory’s key chain, to open the box and found an audio speaker and four hard drives, one containing files for the station and others containing large amounts of child pornography. More than 25,000 images and videos of naked or abused children were found on these external hard drives, according to the prosecution.
“Item 55” used to refer to a computer near Mallory’s desk. In a folder labeled OIS on the computer 109 images of smaller images show that child porn was viewed on the computer.
McMurry says that after detectives spoke with employees at the station, many said that he does use BearShare to download a lot of old movies for the show. Most of the images and videos were received from BearShare.
Lewis also found videos on a drive that came from cameras that were pointed up at women and children who sat in front of his desk in his office, which was concealed under his desk.
Mallory’s defense provided explanations to refute the allegations.
“Mallory is not guilty.” said defense attorney Ed Garland in his opening statement. “He did not knowingly possess any of these images and videos of child pornography.”
He said child pornography is an abomination to Mallory, and that Mallory did not invade anyone’s privacy. Garland said Mallory had been experiencing thefts in the station and people were stealing computer equipment and getting on to his computers; the cameras were to try to find out who was doing it.
Garland explains that Mallory was not tampering with evidence when the officer accused him of removing the hard drive.
“He was just an over-anxious officer looking to arrest someone.” said Garland. “It was a hot day, and Mallory was trying to plug the fan and accidentally unplugged the drive.”
Garland establishes that the porn was an unwanted by-product to acquire the suitable movies to air on TV-33. He said that Mallory first began purchasing movies for the show from pawnshops but it became tiresome, so Mallory then began buying movies online.
By using the peer-to-peer network, a person could download movies for free and search movies that others on the network have downloaded. Garland explains that with programs like this, someone could get things onto their computer without knowing it.
“Mallory is a victim of the Internet,” he said.
Mallory never bought, saw or showed any of the porn files, Garland said. While Mallory was looking for the correct movies and would click to view them, and instantly clicked out of it if it was not what he was looking for. He would then save the correct movies on a drive and the other movies and files on a “trash” drive.
After opening statements, the first witness, Pritchett began his testimony.
Pritchett explained his experience in child porn investigations as asked by the prosecution. He has been with LPD since 2003 and has taken classes on finding child pornography on the Internet that he said has helped him become an expert at determining key words associated with child pron.
A list of file names found on Mallory’s drives were displayed on a projector and Pritchett pointed out common child porn terms in the folder names.
He explained how he can use peer-to-peer network to access child porn and can detect the whole state of Georgia. He says on Feb. 20-21, 2011, there were 621 files were detected coming from an IP address leading to Mallory’s station. A search warrant was executed Feb. 27, 2011. He said that when Mallory came to the LPD he was flush and began shaking and sweating.
He testified that when they arrived at Mallory’s station, Mallory asked police to start searching the studio computers first, and he was sent to the control room first because Mallory insisted that he had to get the day’s show going.
He said that Mallory was arrested that day and released on bond. A second search was conducted on May 13 at his residence, but nothing significant was found inside the home.
Defense attorney John Garland asked if Pritchett considered himself an expert in BearShare, after Pritchett had mentioned that had used the program to download a Kenny Chesney song. Garland argued that if Kenny Chesney was typed into the search bar that not all Kenny Chesney songs would come up, which Pritchett agreed with.
Garland then goes on to support that if Mallory had typed in a movie containing boy, girl, baby — some of the terms allegedly found in some of the child porn files on Mallory’s hard drives — then other movies or images containing the word may show up.
The trial day ended with Pritchett’s testimony and more witnesses were expected to testify today.