Testimony begins in child porn trial of Augusta man

Testimony in the first day of a child pornography trial Wednesday revealed that the case began with a cellphone found outside a Harrisburg convenience store.

The 30 counts of exploitation of a minor against Michael Birchfield stemmed from June 22, 2011, when Dominique Lambert discovered the phone outside the Corner Store at Hicks and Eve streets.

Lambert testified that she flipped through the pictures on the phone to see if it belonged to anyone she knew.

“The first couple of pictures were regular pictures, but then it was just little kids,” said Lambert, who put the ages of the children in the images at 3 to 7.

In his opening argument, Assistant District Attorney John O’Neal said after Lambert called the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the phone was collected as evidence and turned over to investigators.

Investigator Mark Dobbins went through the contacts and dialed the number of someone listed as “Mom.” The woman who answered the phone, Sue Birchfield, confirmed she was Birchfield’s mother and that her son lived with her, O’Neal said.

That served as the basis of a search warrant of Birchfield’s home, which yielded a computer with child pornography, O’Neal said.

“They found so much of it they didn’t feel the need to look any further,” O’Neal said.

Whether Birchfield was the one who downloaded the pornography will be the center of the defense. Birchfield’s attorney, Holly Chapman, said Sue Birchfield has an “open heart” and invited many people into her home.

“There were a lot of people coming in and out,” Chapman said about who could have downloaded the pornography.

Child pornography case goes to trial Wednesday

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Sat, 12/03/2016 - 00:51

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