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Suspect Halifax in pornography case tweaks plea

 

Halifax County Circuit Court Judge Joel Cunningham granted a continuance Monday morning in the Thomas Dale Anderson child pornography case.

Anderson, a 41-year-old Halifax resident, was expected to plead guilty Monday to one charge for a first offense of the reproduction and distribution of child pornography and 222 charges for a subsequent offense of the distribution of child pornography.

Instead, Anderson, through his attorney, Charles H. Crowder III, appeared before Judge Cunningham and expressed his wishes to enter an Alford plea of guilty.

Under terms of an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but realizes prosecution evidence would make a guilty finding at trial almost a certainty.

Crowder told the court he was not seeking a bench trial, telling the court “the facts are not terribly in dispute here.”

The defense attorney, however, asked the court for more time to study case law in support of his argument to amend the second or subsequent charges to those for a first offense.

“I’m asking the court not to make any finding other than that the pleas are sufficient,” Crowder said.

“What the defense is asking the court to do is enter an Alford plea and find evidence not sufficient for a second or subsequent offense,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Kim White told the court.

“We expected a guilty plea, which is why the jury we were supposed to have this morning was called off,” White told Cunningham.

Crowder offered no comment after the hearing, but White restated her earlier argument.

“My argument was in order for there to be a proper guilty plea, a defendant enters pleas to everything they’re facing pursuant to the indictment,” White explained. “The judge decided it was wise to give defense counsel more time to research the issues confronting him.”

Anderson was indicted Jan. 10, 2011 by a Halifax County Circuit Court Grand Jury on a total of 227 counts relating to possession, reproduction and possession with intent to distribute child pornography.

Last week during a motions hearing in Halifax County Circuit Court, the commonwealth nol prossed four counts of distribution of child pornography, while another was amended from a subsequent offense to a first offense of distribution of child pornography.

A Halifax County Circuit Court jury was set to hear the case Monday.

Judge Cunningham continued the case to a date in the May court term.