State v. Johnson, No. SD 31437.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtWILLIAM W. FRANCIS
Citation372 S.W.3d 549
Decision Date17 July 2012
Docket NumberNo. SD 31437.
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Zachary A. JOHNSON, Appellant.

372 S.W.3d 549

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
v.
Zachary A. JOHNSON, Appellant.

No. SD 31437.

Missouri Court of Appeals,
Southern District,
Division One.

July 17, 2012.


[372 S.W.3d 551]


Erika R. Eliason, Columbia, MO, for Appellant.

Chris Koster, Attorney General and Timothy A. Blackwell, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, for Respondent.


WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.

Zachary A. Johnson (“Johnson”) appeals his convictions on four counts of possession of child pornography. Johnson contends the trial court erred in not suppressing the photographs and videos found on his computer and data devices, and in allowing the testimony of Sergeant Paul Cordia (“Sergeant Cordia”) that he believed the suspect images were child pornography. Finding no merit to Johnson's claims, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural History

A bench trial was held on February 17, 2010. Viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment, the evidence adduced at trial revealed the following.

On March 20, 2009, Johnson was staying in a hotel in Columbia with three boys attending a state basketball championship. One of the boys reported that he was in bed with Johnson when he awoke in the early morning hours to find Johnson rubbing his penis. The next day, the boy's father contacted Sergeant William Cooper (“Sergeant Cooper”), of the Missouri Highway Patrol, and reported the incident. Sergeant Cooper interviewed the boy, the boy's uncle—who had arranged the trip—and the two other boys who had been in the hotel room.

On March 24, 2009, based on the information he had gathered, Sergeant Cooper sought a search warrant for Johnson's residence. The prosecutor filed an “Application for Search Warrant to Authorize a Search and Seizure of Property, Articles, Materials, or Substances that Constitute Evidence of the Commission of a Criminal Offense” (“Application”) stating that upon information and belief “certain property, articles, materials, or substances that constitute evidence of commission of the offense of “Possession of Child Pornography were being held and kept at Johnson's residence in Sikeston. Such items included:

any and all devices capable of use in the storage, transmission and/or receipt of electronic data, including but not limited to: computers, modems, cameras, mobile computing devices including PDA's and cellular telephones;

....

any and all images depicting sexual conduct or sexual contact ...;

any and all images or partial images of persons under the age of eighteen, in various states [of] undress[;]

....

[a]ny items that are related to the performance of sexual acts such as but limited

[372 S.W.3d 552]

sic] to condoms, sex toys, or lubricants.

Sergeant Cooper's “Affidavit Supporting Search Warrant” (“Affidavit”) stated that Sergeant Cooper had been in law enforcement since 1990, he had over 1,800 hours of certified law enforcement training, and had training and experience in the field of investigating crimes against persons, Internet crimes against children, and computer-related crimes. Sergeant Cooper had been “conducting an investigation into a criminal allegation of crimes against a child.”

The Affidavit further stated that on March 21, 2009, Sergeant Cooper was approached by “the father of a child,” and the father reported his son was sexually assaulted by Johnson on March 20, 2009, in a hotel room while attending the state championship games in Columbia. The Affidavit related that Sergeant Cooper conducted an interview with the victim of the assault, a fifteen-year-old male. Victim explained he awakened in the early morning hours of March 20, 2009, and believed he was experiencing a dream where his penis was being touched. However, the feeling stopped when he awoke but he had an erection. Victim, convinced he had dreamed this feeling, rolled away from Johnson and closed his eyes to go back to sleep. Johnson said, “Hey,” and victim asked, “What?” Johnson then asked, “Do you want me to finish?” and victim said, “Hell, no.” Victim said he turned back away and felt Johnson's foot rubbing the back of his leg. Victim said he then got out of bed and got into his friend's bed. Victim stated later that morning he showered and was coming out of the bathroom and saw Johnson sitting at the desk on his laptop computer. Johnson asked, “What's up?” Victim confronted Johnson about rubbing his penis, to which Johnson apologized and admitted that what he did was wrong and inappropriate. Victim stated on the previous day, Johnson was photographing his friends while they were watching TV in their room.

Sergeant Cooper also attested in the Affidavit that he interviewed victim's uncle:

[The uncle] stated in hindsight some of the conversations he had with the suspect were ominous. He stated when he asked the suspect what his motivation for taking sporting pictures were, the suspect explained he had an upstart photography business. He said the suspect further stated he wanted to specialize in cameo photography. He asked the suspect what that was and [the suspect] stated it's where a parent introduces [him] to their children, he gets to know them, and then he takes their pictures without their knowledge.

The Affidavit further stated:


Based upon my experience and training, I am aware that evidence of child pornography such as those obtained by sexual predators frequently reside on the computers utilized for many months or longer. This is true due to the nature of computer data, how it is created, stored and deleted. This is true even when a computer user attempts to delete information from a computer, as residual data remains on the computer and is often retrievable by the use of specialized forensic tools. I believe that evidence of the offense of Possession of Child Pornography is recoverable from the computer(s) utilized in the above-described conversations.

The Affidavit then stated that based upon Sergeant Cooper's knowledge, training, and experience, he was aware that searching and seizing information from computers often requires agents to seize most or all electronic storage devices, along with related peripherals, to be

[372 S.W.3d 553

searched later by a qualified computer expert in a laboratory or other controlled environment. Sergeant Cooper requested “the Court's permission to seize all items capable of storing data electronically or magnetically that are believed to contain some or all of the evidence described in the warrant.”

On March 24, 2009, a “Search Warrant” (“Warrant”) was issued authorizing a search of Johnson's residence for the items described in the Application. On March 25, 2009, Sergeant Cooper and other law enforcement officers executed the warrant. During the search at Johnson's residence, Johnson admitted to the officers that he had computer images of nude boys with erect penises and that there could be as many as a thousand images. The officers seized two desktop computers, two laptop computers, and other hard drives or storage devices. The officers also seized a bag containing KY jelly, penis mufflers, and diapers. Upon questioning, Johnson claimed the diapers were for him and that he fit into them. Johnson informed the officers that a Dell tower computer would be the only one on which they would find items of a sensitive nature. Sergeant Cooper turned over the...

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4 practice notes
  • People v. Reyes, 2-17-0379
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 24, 2020
    ...and the fact that Ball watched and masturbated was evidence that he "was a voyeur of child sexual activity." Id.¶ 133 State v. Johnson , 372 S.W.3d 549 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012), is also instructive. There, while on a trip to watch the state basketball championship in Missouri, Johnson stayed in ......
  • People v. Reyes, No. 2-17-0379
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 24, 2020
    ...and the fact that Ball watched and masturbated was evidence that he "was a voyeur of child sexual activity." Id.¶ 133 State v. Johnson, 372 S.W.3d 549 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012), is also instructive. There, while on a trip to watch the state basketball championship in Missouri, Johnson stayed in a......
  • State v. Gibbons, WD 83152
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 29, 2021
    ...intendment and content will be taken as favorable to the trial court's ruling and as unfavorable to the appellant." State v. Johnson , 372 S.W.3d 549, 553 n.1 (Mo. App. S.D. 2012) (internal quotes and citation omitted).5 While there was evidence that multiple acts of the same type occurred ......
  • State v. Wilson, No. SD 31938.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 12, 2013
    ...before him, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” State v. Johnson, 372 S.W.3d 549, 554 (Mo.App. S.D.2012). “Common sense is a key ingredient in considering the absence or presence of probable cause.” Rush, 160 S.W.3d at 849......
4 cases
  • People v. Reyes, 2-17-0379
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 24, 2020
    ...and the fact that Ball watched and masturbated was evidence that he "was a voyeur of child sexual activity." Id.¶ 133 State v. Johnson , 372 S.W.3d 549 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012), is also instructive. There, while on a trip to watch the state basketball championship in Missouri, Johnson stayed in ......
  • People v. Reyes, No. 2-17-0379
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 24, 2020
    ...and the fact that Ball watched and masturbated was evidence that he "was a voyeur of child sexual activity." Id.¶ 133 State v. Johnson, 372 S.W.3d 549 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012), is also instructive. There, while on a trip to watch the state basketball championship in Missouri, Johnson stayed in a......
  • State v. Gibbons, WD 83152
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 29, 2021
    ...intendment and content will be taken as favorable to the trial court's ruling and as unfavorable to the appellant." State v. Johnson , 372 S.W.3d 549, 553 n.1 (Mo. App. S.D. 2012) (internal quotes and citation omitted).5 While there was evidence that multiple acts of the same type occurred ......
  • State v. Wilson, No. SD 31938.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 12, 2013
    ...before him, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” State v. Johnson, 372 S.W.3d 549, 554 (Mo.App. S.D.2012). “Common sense is a key ingredient in considering the absence or presence of probable cause.” Rush, 160 S.W.3d at 849......

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