Pornography trial delayed in Carroll

Prosecutor taking data to grand jury to seek additional charges

April 20, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The trial of a Sykesville man accused of soliciting two boys last year for pornographic pictures, videos and sexual offenses was postponed yesterday after the prosecutor requested time to seek additional charges.

Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway granted the delay in the jury trial of William R. Williams, 45, who lived in Westminster at the time of the alleged incidents.

Prosecutor Tracey A. Gilmore said the new trial date, May 10, will allow time to take new information to a county grand jury May 4 and won't risk violating laws that require a defendant to be tried within 180 days.

Gilmore said the new information relates to the age of a juvenile, which is important in cases of alleged sexual offenses.

"If a victim of a sexual offense is 14 years old, or over, the proper charge is a third-degree sex offense," he said. "But if a victim is under 14, the proper charge is a second-degree sex offense."

According to court documents, Williams was arrested Oct. 27 after he was accused of offering to pay two boys, who are now 14 and 15, for sexually explicit pictures he planned to use to start a pornographic Web site.

He was charged on two counts each of soliciting minors for pornographic purposes, permitting minors to engage in pornographic activity and filming minors in sexual activity.

Several days later, Williams was charged with sodomy, perverted practice and sexual offenses, court records show.

After granting the trial's postponement, Galloway denied a defense motion to remove the case from Carroll County because of pretrial publicity.

Fred S. Hecker, an attorney from Westminster who represents Williams, noted population and newspaper circulation figures, arguing that 18 percent of all county residents -- those who subscribe to The Sun and Carroll County Times -- had the opportunity to read six detailed accounts of his client's arrests and the allegations against him.

Hecker presented three friends of his client's who said that their friends read the accounts and concluded that Williams was guilty.

Gilmore argued that the burden rests with the defense to prove that pretrial publicity would make it impossible to select an impartial jury. Factual accounts of what has occurred -- allegations, arrests and charges filed -- that are written from information in court documents are not considered prejudicial, he said.

Hecker said his client's case was not typical, involving charges in a rural county of alleged acts that are of a sensitive subject. The alleged offenses occurred in Carroll County and unless it is clearly shown the defendant cannot receive a fair trial from an impartial jury, the trial does not need to be moved, Galloway said.

"I will deny removal," Galloway said. "We can always entertain another motion [to change the venue] after attempting to seat a jury on May 10, based on the facts then."

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