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Judge sentences Pennington Gap man convicted on child porn charges

March 5th, 2014 9:17 pm by Wes Bunch

Judge sentences Pennington Gap man convicted on child porn charges

GARY JOSHUA GARRISON

JONESVILLE — A Southwest Virginia man was sentenced to more than two years in prison following his conviction last month on more than a dozen child pornography related counts.

Gary Joshua Garrison, 26, Pennington Gap, was given an active sentence of two years and eight months in prison by Lee County Circuit Court Judge Tammy McElyea. Garrison was ordered to serve consecutive five-year sentences with three years and eight months suspended.

Garrison must also submit to supervised release and was banned from owning or using a computer and accessing the Internet.

In January, Garrison pleaded “no contest” in Lee County court to 11 counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of reproduction of child pornography.

Garrison did not take the stand during Monday’s sentencing hearing. Members of his family and the church he attends did, however, testify on his behalf, asking the court for leniency.

Garrison’s mother described her son as a “child in a man’s body” who suffered a lifetime of mental issues that had never fully been diagnosed.

McElyea reportedly expressed concerns about Garrison’s mental limitations in levying the punishment. As a result, she ordered Garrison to be placed in special housing for inmates with mental disorders.

Lee County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shawn Hines said he acknowledged Garrison’s mental issues, but felt they weren’t to the degree that should allow him to avoid punishment. Hines also noted that Garrison passed two mental evaluations and was declared competent to stand trial.

During the sentencing, McElyea disagreed with the defense’s argument that Garrison’s crime was a victimless one, noting that downloading the videos provides demand for them that is met by exploiting children.

McElyea also distinguished between Garrison’s case and that of Kyle Perkins, who was sentenced in December 2013 to 15 years in prison for child pornography.

McElyea noted that Perkins’ case focused on the distribution of child pornography and involved nearly double the number of charges.

Authorities began investigating Garrison in February 2013 after a detective with the Southwest Virginia Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force observed child pornography being downloaded to a computer in Lee County.

Investigators were able to trace the IP address to Garrison’s physical address in Pennington Gap. Virginia State Police special agents searched the residence in April 2013.

During the search, special agents confiscated Garrison’s personal computer, which contained numerous pictures and videos of young boys and girls as young as infants and as old as pre-teens engaging in sexual acts.

Hines said Garrison confessed to owning the child pornography during an interview with VSP special agent Jason Jenkins.

Following the Garrison’s sentencing, Hines praised the work of the ICAC Task Force and VSP special agents did on the case.

“I would like to commend the work done in this case by Investigator Mark Lowe of the ICAC task force, as well as Special Agent Jason Jenkins of the Virginia State Police,” Hines said. “Those two, along with many others, are working behind the scenes to bring these child pornography perpetrators to justice.

“These are difficult and disturbing cases to prosecute because of the small children who are forever left victimized. There are no words to adequately describe just how horrific these videos and images are. I am grateful to officers such as Lowe and Jenkins for making society safer as a result of these investigations.

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