The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 30, 2012

Enid man found guilty in child porn case

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A Garfield County jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a guilty verdict for man charged with possession of child pornography.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for 50 minutes before finding Michael Anthony Mason guilty and recommending he serve the maximum 20-year sentence and pay a fine of $10,000.

Mason was charged last year after an undercover online investigation found his computer was sharing known files of child pornography.

Because of the nature of the charge, Mason must serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole or credits to his sentence. Upon his release, he also will have to register as a sex offender. Formal sentencing is 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

The jury began deliberations at about 9:50 a.m., after hearing closing arguments from Assistant District Attorney Tallena Hart and Mason’s court-appointed attorney Tim Beebe.

However, a decision likely was made when jurors submitted a question to District Judge Paul Woodward asking whether they were to determine the sentence and dollar amount of the fine and write those figures on the verdict form.

Jurors heard testimony from four people Thursday, with the majority of the testimony coming from case agent Enid Police Department Detective Tim Doyle and a videotaped interview he conducted with Mason.

In her closing, Hart told jurors the case presented to them was a solid one.

“The evidence has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant Michael Mason is guilty of possessing child pornography,” she said.

Hart noted the three elements of the crime were present: The files qualified as child pornography, they were in Mason’s possession, and he was aware of their content.

“You have seen the videos Detective Doyle downloaded from the defendant,” she said. “You have seen the video and images yourself. It is child pornography. The defendant told him he had intentionally downloaded child pornography.”

Hart said Mason admitted his guilt during his interview Feb. 5, 2011, and even said he was going to go to jail. She said his reasons for wanting the “death penalty” after being accused and cleared of two other crimes had no impact on this case.

“Michael Mason told the truth when he said he had downloaded child pornography, but the excuse he made was to save face, to minimize,” she said. “Ultimately, why he did it is irrelevant.”

Beebe thanked the jurors for their time and then pulled his iPhone from his pocket to show to the jury.

He told jurors if he let them borrow his phone and they downloaded images such as those seen in court Thursday, he would be guilty of the same crime as Mason.

He asked jurors to set aside their anger over the two videos they were shown and take into consideration Mason’s well-being and mindset at the time of his interview with Doyle.

“Mr. Mason clearly was not in his right mind,” Beebe said. “He wasn’t a well man.”

He said Mason told Doyle 15 times during the interview that he wanted to die. Beebe also said there was no way of knowing all the images Doyle saw on Mason’s computer were downloaded by Mason.

“On. Feb. 15, 2011, the date on which Mr. Mason was arrested, there was nothing illegal in Mr. Mason’s possession,” Beebe said, noting all the computers, storage and media devices seized did not have any child pornography files.

Beebe said the prosecution showed jurors two videos of child pornography to anger them, and that Mason had no knowledge of the videos shown in court.

“Mr. Mason didn’t take these pictures. He didn’t make these videos,” Beebe said. “Mr. Mason is not a violent man. If Mr. Mason had a film studio in his basement, it would be different.”

Beebe asked jurors, if they had to find Mason guilty, to not sentence him to prison, but to impose a fine instead.

Hart told jurors Beebe’s example of the iPhone was “completely different” from the facts of the case.

She said the number of images does not matter, but Mason’s admissions do. She also said the insinuations another was responsible for the images on Mason’s computer were not supported by evidence.

Hart pointed to testimony from Mason’s daughter, who provided police with cellphone pictures of Mason’s computer, showing files of child pornography. The teen testified the files were in a folder titled “temp.” That folder is where Mason told Doyle he often saved explicit images he downloaded, Hart said.

After the verdict was returned, Mason quietly sat until a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy took him into custody.

Woodward ordered a pre-sentencing investigation be conducted prior to formal sentencing.