Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Anthony Fletcher faces up to 30 years if convicted in Federal Child Porn case

Opening statements got under way Monday in the federal trial of a Bloomington-area man accused of making child pornography.

Anthony Fletcher, who is representing himself, appeared before jurors dressed in a suit, a far cry from the inmate jumpsuit he has worn at dozens of hearings where he has repeatedly challenged federal prosecutors.

He was indicted in March by a federal grand jury on charges of possession and production of child pornography. If convicted, he faces 15 to 30 years in prison.

At a hearing last week, he unsuccessfully questioned whether the children in the photos he allegedly took are even children at all. The motion was denied but illustrates the legal savvy of a man who has churned out scores of motions from his jail cell.

His case file has 300 docket entries, a rate on par with some civil cases. Of the five other criminal cases indicted by the same grand jury, three have been sentenced and two are awaiting sentencing. None of the cases, which spanned from bank robbery to child porn to drugs, had more than 40 docket entries.

First it was allegations of police impropriety, then of improper behavior by the prosecutors and even the court stenographer. Fletcher filed at least 10 civil suits within the past few years, attacking everyone from his jailers to prosecutors to the police. All but one have been tossed out.

At present, Fletcher has two private investigators, a stand-by attorney and a computer expert as part of his legal team, all paid for by the legal system.

On the other side, the U.S. Attorney's office has two attorneys and two experts. There are also six local attorneys who were appointed to represent the interests of the alleged victims in the case. One of those was arguing a point well after 5 p.m. Monday and blocked Fletcher from introducing questions about the girl's sexual history.

Fletcher is no stranger to the courtroom, with felony convictions going back to 1984, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. He was sentenced to six years for attempted murder and 12 years for aggravated hijacking resulting from convictions in Cook County.

Last year, he was convicted in McLean County for aggravated criminal sexual abuse and possessing child porn, receiving a 29-year sentence in July. A federal sentence, if he's convicted, could be tacked onto the existing state term.

His trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

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