Hoiland testifies during child pornography trial

WILLMAR -- Blair D. Hoiland denied in court Wednesday ever seeing 24 images of child pornography that authorities allege he downloaded from the Internet onto his home computer.

WILLMAR -- Blair D. Hoiland denied in court Wednesday ever seeing 24 images of child pornography that authorities allege he downloaded from the Internet onto his home computer.

As Hoiland's attorney, John Mack of New London, handed the images to Hoiland, Mack asked Hoiland if he'd ever seen the images. "No, I have not,'' Hoiland responded after looking at each image.

Mack then asked Hoiland if he knew how the images depicting sexual activity by minors and adults ended up on his computer hard drive. "I have no clue whatsoever,'' Hoiland said during his trial in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Hoiland was the only defense witness called by Mack to testify Wednesday morning after the state rested its case Tuesday afternoon. Hoiland is charged with 16 counts of possession of child pornography, which he is alleged to have obtained over the Internet.

Hoiland, 43, testified he was employed at Mills Ford and worked part time for the city of Willmar as a hockey announcer at the Civic Center when his house was searched by Willmar Police Department officers on March 2, 2004.


Police were continuing the investigation begun in October 2003 when an officer with the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force started looking into a suspect who was actively viewing and uploading child pornography through the Internet, according to a criminal complaint.

Task force investigator Sgt. Bill Haider, of the St. Paul Police Department, said he had received 13 tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which documented the suspect's actions. Under a 2002 federal law, Internet service providers are required to report incidents of individuals obtaining child porn through the Internet, he said.

The investigation led to Hoiland's home, where officers took his computer and other items. Experts testified Tuesday the images were found after the computer's hard drive was analyzed.

Hoiland testified he is now unemployed and is a student at Ridgewater College.

The criminal complaint quoted Hoiland as saying in March 2004 that he coached baseball in the community, but that he would not act on these children.

In the past, Hoiland has coached Minnesota Sports Federation youth traveling baseball, according to Tribune archives.

Hoiland is not charged with any wrongdoing involving juveniles, other than those allegedly depicted in the downloaded images.

Hoiland said he bought the computer in the spring of 2003. He said he left it on all the time. Matthew Martin, 22, and Timothy Martin, 20, who were living with Hoiland when police searched his home, had testified they used Hoiland's computer, along with their friends, but said they did not know his Internet password.


Hoiland said he had indications that his computer was hacked. He recounted the instance during which he was logged out of his account after an encounter with an individual in a chat room. Hoiland said he was unable to restart his computer. He took it to a friend who was able to restart it.

Hoiland said there was a possibility that pornography was downloaded on the hard drive because he didn't know what the Martin brothers were downloading.

During cross-examination by the prosecutor, state assistant attorney general Daniel Vlieger, Hoiland said he went to Yahoo groups and games. He said he never uploaded images into groups. He couldn't at first recall if he put his profile and photo into a group, but later said he did put the profile there after Vlieger showed Hoiland a photo of himself, which was recovered from the hard drive.

Hoiland said he downloaded photos of adult men and women from the Internet to sell on a Web site. He said he was interested in some of the photos and not interested in others. He didn't remember printing any of the photos.

Vlieger asked Hoiland about a picture frame containing six pornographic photos of males and juveniles that officers found in his bedroom. Hoiland said he had no idea where the photos came from, but he said Timothy Martin suggested one of his friends "did it to be mean.''

Vlieger referred to a transcript of Willmar Police Detective Matt Akerson's interview with Hoiland. Vlieger said Hoiland never told Akerson that his computer was hacked.

"I never thought of it at the time,'' said Hoiland. "You didn't deny it,'' said Vlieger. Hoiland said he was never asked if his computer had been hacked. Hoiland said many things were on his mind when his house was searched, including his intent to see a St. Cloud attorney about bankruptcy.

Judge Kathryn Smith, who heard the case, did not immediately issue a verdict after Hoiland concluded his testimony. Mack and Vlieger agreed that they will submit final written arguments by Dec. 2. Written rebuttals will be due Dec. 9, and a verdict will be issued 14 days afterward.

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