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Judge Lets Child Porn Defendant Walk

October 10, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ An Avon man who had been found with scores of images of child pornography on his computer and videos of children being violently raped has avoided prison time.

Edward J. Burke III, 47, was given a suspended sentence last week after going into a courtroom expecting to spend up to four years behind bars.

Burke, 47, of Avon, was convicted in a plea deal of two counts of first-degree possession of child pornography.

Prosecutor John F. Fahey told Judge Thomas P. Miano that Burke had 141 photo images and two videotapes of known child victims on a home computer. The victims ranged in age from toddlers to prepubescent children.

Fahey and Burke’s defense lawyer, John D. Maxwell, had worked out a deal that called for Burke to receive up to four years in prison, five years’ probation, and mandatory sex offender registration for 10 years.

But the agreement gave Maxwell the right to argue for a completely suspended prison sentence, which was granted by Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Miano.

Miano noted that Burke has actively participated in sex-offender therapy for the last year and, by his doctor’s account, is at very low-risk to offend again.

The lack of prison time was something of a surprise to the state’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor.

``I have to say that I am amazed at that sentence,″ O’Connor said. ``It would be very, very rare to see that at the federal level. Particularly with the distribution. You really, really get hammered for distribution.″

Authorities were directed at Burke after his Internet provider determined that he was distributing child porn images to others.

Armed with a search warrant, Burke’s home was searched and his computers seized. More than 1,100 pornographic images and dozens of videos were found on one computer.

O’Connor said Friday that there are no hard and fast rules as to whether child-pornography defendants will be prosecuted in state or federal courts, but he did note that there would have been mandatory prison for a conviction at the federal level.

The federal law known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 requires a mandatory minimum prison sentence.

There are no such mandatory minimum penalties in Connecticut’s child-pornography laws.

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