Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Santos

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

June 21, 2017

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JUAN TORRES SANTOS, Defendant-Appellant.


          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Laura E. Horton, Assistant Attorney General Santa Fe, NM for Appellee

          The Elion Law Firm, P.C. Gary D. Elion Santa Fe, NM for Appellant


          MICHAEL E. VIGIL, Judge

         {1} Following a jury trial, Defendant Juan Torres Santos appeals his conviction of one count of sexual exploitation of children (possession), commonly referred to as "possession of child pornography, " a fourth degree felony, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-6A-3(A) (2007, amended 2016).[1] He raises two issues, which we have reorganized and address as follows: (1) whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that he "intentionally possessed" child pornography; and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion by allowing the State to show video evidence to the jury after Defendant offered to stipulate that the material proposed to be shown was child pornography. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         {2} On March 21, 2014, Special Agent Owen Peña for the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted an undercover online investigation searching for individuals involved with child pornography on the Ares peer-to-peer, file-sharing network. Agent Peña, the State's first witness, was qualified as an expert in peer-to-peer networks and explained that the Ares file-sharing network does not operate unless there is material to share in a share folder. In order for a user to be able to download files, the user must be sharing files. While conducting his investigation, Agent Peña connected to a certain Internet protocol (IP) address, later traced to Defendant, and Agent Peña discovered that the user of that IP address had "four files of investigative interest" that may contain child pornography in a publicly shared file. Agent Peña successfully downloaded two videos from Defendant's computer that were available to download. After downloading the videos to his computer, Agent Peña reviewed the videos and burned the files to a disc. Through further investigation, Agent Peña determined that the physical address associated with the IP address was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He then referred the case to Detective Kyle Hartsock of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.

         {3} The State's next witness, Detective Hartsock, testified about his investigation and was qualified as an expert in computer networks and computer forensics. He determined that Defendant and Defendant's wife lived at the address associated with the IP address. After obtaining a warrant to search the residence, Detective Hartsock and other law enforcement officers executed the search warrant. Detective Hartsock spoke with Defendant and informed him that they were conducting a child pornography investigation. Defendant admitted that he had been downloading child pornography to research "how lesions might appear" on child victims in sexual assault cases. He explained that he was a pediatrician, he had practiced medicine in other states, and he was awaiting a medical license in New Mexico. Defendant also told the detective that he would delete the files "almost immediately" after he watched them, and Defendant admitted that he would get physically aroused when he watched the videos.

         {4} Three laptops, an internal hard drive, and two external hard drives were seized from Defendant's residence and taken to the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Albuquerque for forensic examination. Detective Hartsock testified that he found the following on Defendant's laptop: the Ares peer-to-peer file-sharing software; child pornographic videos in the recycle bin folder; child pornographic search terms in unallocated space; and "CCleaner" scrubbing software "designed to clear out files that might have already been deleted, and also it will empty your recycle bin." Eight video files in the recycle bin appeared to be child pornography, and 531 files had been downloaded through Ares into Defendant's shared folder. Although most of the actual files were no longer in the shared folder or on the computer, the names of these files were still listed in history. According to Detective Hartsock, most of the file names were "pornography-related, and most of that pornography ha[d] file names that [the detective] commonly see[s] in child pornography investigations." Two other witnesses also testified on behalf of the State regarding their computer forensic examinations in this case.

         {5} At the close of the State's case, the district court directed a verdict of acquittal as to the two counts of distribution of child pornography against Defendant. The only charge that remained was for one count of possession of child pornography.

         {6} Defendant testified on his own behalf and stated that he was from Peru, went to medical school in Peru, did training in Puerto Rico, and had previously worked as a pediatrician in the United States. After he moved to Albuquerque with his wife, who is also a physician, he started looking for employment. He was not successful in finding employment and decided to look at child pornography for research purposes. It was his contention that he downloaded and watched child pornography for research purposes because the medical publications did not sufficiently depict how lesions are formed on child victims of sexual abuse. During the relevant time period, Defendant did not have any patients and was depressed.

         {7} Defendant admitted that he had previously installed the Ares software onto his computer to listen to music, then to watch adult videos, and "eventually child pornography." He said that he "found these kind of videos like on accident, " and he claimed that he deleted the videos after he watched them. He further testified that he used "CCleaner" to erase all archives and make his computer faster because he liked to watch television stations from Peru on his computer. When asked if he was familiar with the recycle bin on his computer, he said he was familiar with it, he explained that he put things in the recycle bin that he no longer wanted, and he said that he knew how to take things out of the recycle bin. When asked if he had ever taken anything out of the recycle bin, he responded, "Yes. Obviously. Yeah."

         {8} During cross-examination, Defendant admitted that he searched for "PTHC" for child pornography, which means "preteen hardcore, " and he searched for "the Gracel Series, which was a series depicting a mom, a dad, and a child having sexual intercourse[.]" He also said that he did not discuss his research with any colleagues because he "didn't know any other physician[s] here." He further testified that he did not think it was necessary to tell his physician wife because his research was "to increase [his] knowledge. That's it."

         {9} Defendant's trial defenses were that he downloaded child pornography for research purposes and that he did not "intentionally possess" child pornography because he deleted the videos after he watched them. The jury was not convinced and found Defendant guilty of possession of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.