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Man pleads to porn charge, will receive stay on sentence

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- A 23-year-old Marshall man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of possession of pornography for having sexual videos and images of children on his laptop computer.

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Thomas Daniel Burt entered the plea in Kandiyohi County District Court and will receive a stay of imposition on his sentence, which will be handed down on July 17. Under a stay of imposition, the felony conviction may be reduced to a misdemeanor on his record if all sentencing conditions are met.

The charge was filed after Feb. 18, 2008, when two people turned over to Willmar police what they believed to be a stolen laptop that contained child pornography.

They had received the laptop from a woman -- who had a relationship with Burt -- who said Burt had left the computer at her home and that he had shown her child porn videos on the computer.

Burt called the officer about the computer, and the allegations against him, a few days later. He stated he had leased the computer from Ridgewater College while taking classes and should have returned it, but didn't have the money to pay the late fees. He said he used it for a music service he ran at a bar and claimed that many people used the computer.

A Willmar police officer completed a forensic examination of the hard drive. The exam revealed nine videos depicting explicit sex acts involving children that appeared to be younger than 10 years old and three images of child pornography, located in a user folder named "burttho." Also found on the computer were six videos and one image that might contain juveniles engaged in sex acts and 43 images of pornography that were not believed to have juvenile participants.

The nine videos with child images had been placed in the recycle bin and deleted on the same date. The officer also reviewed the file properties and determined that the nine files had been placed in separate partitions of the hard drive, and that they could not be an accidental download of files or the result of surfing the Internet. The officer also determined the files had been created while Burt had possession of the computer. When interviewed, the woman told officers that Burt was very protective of the computer, had it password protected and never let anyone use it while he wasn't there.

She also said he had shown her where the porn files were hidden.

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