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Johnson City child porn suspect to undergo psych evaluation

Matthew Lane • Feb 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM

GREENEVILLE — A Johnson City man who was supposed to be sentenced in a federal child pornography case is now going to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Nathan Alexander Kirkland was found with hundreds of videos and thousands of images of child pornography on his personal computer. He was indicted in U.S. District Court in Greeneville last June on two charges: knowingly receiving child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Kirkland faces five to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In September, Kirkland agreed to plead guilty to the receiving charge and was scheduled for sentencing last week. However, in early January, Kirkland’s attorney filed an expedited motion for a psychological evaluation.

Public defender Nikki Pierce wrote in the motion that she has concerns about the mental capacity of Kirkland and his ability to address the issues in the case. The reasons in support of this motion were filed under seal.

Pierce wrote in the motion that she does not believe she can represent Kirkland effectively without the benefit of a psychological evaluation.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The charges against Kirkland come after investigators were able to download eight child pornography videos from his computer over a two-month period using the peer-to-peer file sharing program eMule.

The investigation began in November 2017 with the Knoxville Police Department and eventually involved the Kingsport Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

A forensic evaluation of Kirkland’s computer found he had received hundreds of videos of child porn, and thousands of images were stored there.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE RULING

Kirkland has been held without bond since his arrest.

During a detention hearing in May, U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifton Corker ruled he was simply not willing to risk the very real threat of self-harm by Kirkland.

A federal agent testified that Kirkland instructed her, “Don’t ask my family to bond me out.” In addition, Corker noted that Kirkland has a family history of suicide and that Kirkland’s mother testified about her very real concern about her son’s mental health and fear of self-harm.

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