A judge requested additional information Friday before deciding whether details of a prior crime committed by a registered sex offender can be used as evidence in a pending child molestation case.
Joshua Johnson, 20, has entered not-guilty pleas in Richmond County Superior Court to charges that include aggravated child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor and computer child pornography.
On Friday, attorneys argued over the introduction of a prior child sex crime if Johnson stands trial on the new charges.
In the new case, Johnson is accused of establishing separate relationships with 14-year-old girls through internet sites in 2012. He convinced both girls to send him sexually explicit photographs of themselves, and he had sexual relations with one of the teens, said Assistant District Attorney Kim Easterling.
At the time, Johnson was a registered sex offender. He was convicted of sexual battery in Columbia County in 2011. Judge Sheryl B. Jolly sentenced Johnson to five years’ probation, with the first year in a state detention center. She sentenced him under the First Offender Act, according to court records.
In 2008, when he was 14 years old, he committed a sexual act against a 5-year-old girl, Easterling said. Evidence of that crime shows premeditation, a pattern of conduct, and how Johnson manipulated victims, she argued.
Attorney Kimberly Wilder of the public defender’s office countered that the circumstances of the 2008 case and the new charges are so different that the only issue the evidence would address is Johnson’s character, which is legally impermissible.
Because Georgia adopted new evidence rules this year, Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. said Friday that he wanted to study the law before making a decision. He asked the attorneys to present legal briefs to support their positions.