It has been almost two years since it was alleged Justin Kyle Hutcherson filmed children and others in his shower and while using the restroom in his home.
Now Hutcherson waits in the Tallapoosa County Jail for sentencing next month on 61 counts after a jury found him guilty Friday of 12 counts of production of obscene matter involving persons under 17; 16 counts of aggravated criminal surveillance; 12 counts of possession and possession with intent to disseminate obscene material of persons under 17; and 21 counts of tampering with physical evidence.
The videos of girls ages 7 through 17 and adult women were shown to the jury with lewd body parts blacked out, a first for Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ray Martin. Martin also ordered the videos to be shown to only the jury and court officials during the nearly week-long proceedings for the purposes of this week’s trial before sealing them.
“I don’t want these getting out into the public realm,” Martin said as Hutcherson was led from the courtroom with his hands cuffed. “There is no reason these need to get out.”
One of the videos shows Hutcherson adjusting the camera in the bathroom and just moments later is heard coaching a child on how to enter and exit a shower in front of a camera designed to look like a pen.
It took more than two hours to show all the videos to the jury, but the jury took less than an hour to return guilty verdicts on all 61 counts. Just moments before the jury returned, victims prayed with their family; Huthcherson’s mother also prayed.
Hutcherson shook his head in disbelief at the defense table as Martin read the jury’s verdict Friday. Hutcherson looked at his mother in the courtroom with eyes of disbelief then looked down and began texting on his cell phone as it took Martin several minutes to get through the verdicts.
Fifth Judicial Circuit district attorney Jeremy Duerr was appreciative of the jury sitting through four days of misery.
“I want to thank the jury for their willingness to serve; to sit and listen to the facts in a horrendous case and come to the appropriate verdicts,” Duerr said. “These verdicts not only sent a statement that this type of activity will not be tolerated, they also give a feeling of closure to these families and especially these children. This case was one of the most trying and emotional cases I’ve ever seen while in the district attorney’s office.”
Duerr credited law enforcement and his staff for pulling the case together.
“I cannot commend the work of the officers involved enough — New Site police chief Philip Weddle and Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department investigator Lt. Bill Hough did an outstanding job bringing a case of this nature to our office,” Duerr said. “Lastly I would like to thank assistant district attorneys Kevin Hall and Robbie Treese. They worked countless hours prepping the witnesses and getting this ready for trial. Those two have such a passion for what they do and care about the victims of this circuit in such a way they made it easy for the jurors to return the appropriate verdicts.”
Hall told jurors Tuesday at the beginning of the trial the facts they would hear during the course of the trial would be easy to interpret.
“This case is pretty simple,” Hall said. “This case is about nudity and this case is about surveillance.”
Hall said the images were captured on a camera in an ink pen.
Hutcherson was represented by Zach Alsobrook. Alsobrook said from the start Hutcherson captured images of his wife and more, but Hutcherson had a valid reason.
“Justin Kyle Hutcherson and (his wife) lived in this house,” Alsobrook said. “(Hutcherson) didn’t install anything. It was placed on the lavatory in the bathroom. Mr. Hutcherson was in a faulty marriage.”
The issue was the videos were of children entering and exiting a shower during a sleepover. In many of the videos music was playing in the bathroom. All the videos were captured during holiday events at the Hutcherson home.
The videos were discovered by Hutcherson’s wife Jan. 14, 2018. She had returned home from work and noticed a bill in the mail. The wife went to the computer to pay the bill online and noticed a folder.
“I saw thumbnails of people; I asked, ‘What is this?’” the wife said from the stand. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I kept looking. I noticed (one of the thumbnails) was (a nude child).”
The wife said she continued to confront Hutcherson.
“I asked him, ‘Why do you have this picture on here?’” the wife testified. “He said, ‘Just delete them.’”
The wife didn’t delete them; she tried to upload them to a thumb drive but “the videos were too big.” Hutcherson offered up excuses to his wife in the moment of the confrontation that a co-worker made him do it and he was getting paid to do it.
“It ended up being the most stupid thing to say,” Hutcherson testified. “I freaked; I panicked when I realized what was there.”
The pen camera was easily hidden in Hutcherson’s home as both he and his wife used ink pens at work, often bringing them home and many ending up in the bathroom.
Hutcherson took the stand and admitted he placed the camera in what is now a stupid mistake, something his attorney acknowledged.
“I have two daughters of my own,” Alsobrook said. “Those videos make me sick. They are disgusting; I couldn’t watch them. Those children are innocently playing and doing whatever. It is a sickening feeling watching it. They feel they are alone; they don’t believe anyone is watching. But that pen camera was there.
“My client fully admits to putting it there…I do not agree with what Kyle Hutcherson did. I told him that. Idiot, stupid, are things that come to mind. Putting a camera in an effort to resolve your marital issues rather than going to your wife and talking is stupid.”
The pen camera and computer were sent to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s digital forensics unit and forensic technology examiner Robert Briggs. Briggs said he found the videos in the recycle bin. The computer had assigned the space to be written over or deleted in a set time frame. Briggs said he could determine when files had been created on computers. Briggs also testified the videos created by Hutcherson in his bathroom were not known to be in circulation. Briggs also recovered videos from the microSD card in the pen camera.
Briggs recovered images on the devices that caught Hutcherson telling two stories.
When Hutcherson first took the stand, he testified he had used the camera only at home. Treese asked Hutcherson if he ever took the pen to work but Hutcherson denied taking it to work. Treese asked how photos of Hutcherson’s workplace might be on the SD card. Hutcherson again placed blame on a co-worker.
Briggs recovered two images from the SD card at Hutcherson’s workplace, one with Hutcherson in it. Hutcherson changed his story during a rebuttal testifying he had gotten the pen camera a few years before and played with it as part of the building he worked in was renovated.
The wife testified she didn’t notice Hutcherson being sexually interested in girls. Hutcherson testified he was only interested sexually in adult women, but it was Briggs who said he found evidence otherwise. Briggs discovered a single image on the computer and it was presented to the jury to rebut Hutcherson’s testimony.
“It is a known child porn image,” Briggs said. “It often comes from the dark web. This image appeared to be a screenshot of an Android phone and Google Chrome moved it to the computer Jan. 14, 2018.”
Hutcherson now faces sentencing Jan. 14, exactly two years from when victims found the images on the computer and reported it to police.
Production of obscene matter involving persons under 17 is a Class A felony and Hutcherson faces between 10 and 99 years in prison for each of the 12 counts. Possession and possession with intent to disseminate obscene material of persons under 17 is a Class C felony and Hutcherson faces between one and 10 years in prison for each count. Aggravated criminal surveillance and tampering with physical evidence are misdemeanors.
Martin could sentence Hutcherson to as little as 10 years but if Martin orders all of the felony sentences consecutively Hutcherson is facing 1,358 years in prison.
Duerr said he hopes the victims can now move on to a somewhat normal life.
“I don’t know things will ever be the same for them,” Duerr said. “I just hope this family and especially these children can have a very Merry Christmas now, knowing this person will never be able to harm them again.”