Graphic descriptions by Scioto County Sheriff s Detective Jodi Conkel and Deputy Steve Vanhoose of child pornography they viewed on a confiscated computer closed out the first day of testimony in the trial of William R. Tackett Jr. of Flatwoods, Ky.
Tackett, who is charged with 66 counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, was on trial in Judge William T. Marshall's Scioto County Common Pleas courtroom on Monday.
Tackett, employed in the parts department of Big Sandy Furniture's warehouse in Wheelersburg, is accused of downloading child pornography on a company computer.
After a jury was seated about 10:50 a.m., Assistant Scioto County Prosecutor Pat Apel laid out the state's case.
Apel said that in October of 2005, Big Sandy supervisors found pornography downloading on Tackett's computer and reported it. Apel said that when Steve Jordan, director of safety and security, confronted Tackett at a termination meeting, he didn't deny the charges and asked if he could get counseling in order to save his job.
Apel said he was given the option to resign or be terminated, and that Tackett signed a paper saying he would resign.
Apel told the jury that during a phone conversation with Conkel, which would be played to the court later in the day, Tackett gave her instructions on how to access the Internet site.
Apel called the material on the site PTHC, which he explained stood for Preteen Hard Core.
Defense Attorney Aaron Triplett divided the 66 counts into two groups.
“Thirty-six counts against my client address what the prosecution says are specific dates during the period of Aug. 1, 2005, to Dec. 13, 2005, then 30 counts with no specific dates they say occurred over a 90-day period, and on four of the dates, my client wasn't even at work,” said Triplett. “Some counts are credited to him after he was terminated.”
Apel called eight employees to the stand who worked in the warehouse with Tackett.
Karen Sparks, supervisor over the electronics and appliances department at the warehouse, told jurors about what she saw when she would approach Tackett's work station.
“If you would approach his desk, he would click his mouse several times before you could see what was on his screen,” said Sparks. “One day I went around the corner by his desk and looked at his monitor. The Internet was pulled up and there was a picture of a naked lady on it.”
Sparks then went to Jim Stringer, supervisor of the service department, with the information.
On the witness stand, Stringer spoke of a meeting on Jan. 7, 2005, in which employees had been told that it was against company rules to download anything from the Internet except for manuals and schematics, and that anyone caught downloading anything else would be terminated.
“Everyone in the department, including Bill (Tackett) signed a copy of the letter,” Stringer said.
supervisor, testified about the situation that brought on the suspicion that someone was downloading items from the Internet.
“The computers kept locking up, and at times, they slowed down to a crawl,” said Jacobs. “Sometimes your computer would just stop.”
Jacobs discussed the issue with Stringer. He said all the computers were password protected so no one could use another employee's computer.
Jordan said as the internal investigation progressed, Tackett's computer was brought to his office and Jordan said that after he got the password, he clicked on “user” and pornographic material began to show up on the screen.
Jordan said he contacted the sheriff's office and that Conkel sent Vanhoose to investigate. Jordan said he had already viewed several of the videos when Vanhoose arrived. After Vanhoose saw some of the videos, he confiscated the computer.
Jordan said on Oct. 25, 2005, he called Tackett into his office, and Human Relations Director Melissa Holmes and Bill Boggs, supervisor of the appliance shop and electronics shop, were in his office when he terminated Tackett for breaking company rules.
“He (Tackett) wanted to know if he could get counseling because he didn't want to lose his job,” said Jordan. “But I just told him ‘I'm sorry, the decision has already been made.' I then gave him the option of being terminated or resigning, and he chose to resign.”
Triplett questioned the letter of termination, signed by Tackett, because the line “I choose to resign,” was inserted after Tackett had signed the letter. Jordan said he added it afterwards, but that Tackett had made the choice.
Apel played the Nov. 17, 2005, phone conversation between Conkel and Tackett.
Vanhoose and Conkel described acts depicted in the videos in graphic detail.
“During the course of the viewing I had to take a break. It was the sickest, most repulsive thing I had ever seen,” said Conkel.
The prosecution asked each of the witnesses who worked with Tackett if they had ever downloaded any pornographic material on Tackett's computer.
The defense repeatedly asked if anyone in the sheriff's department had loaded anything else onto the computer once they received it.
Both members of the sheriff's office continually reiterated that the computer was never hooked up to the Internet. Capt. Greg Dunham had asked that the material be copied and saved, just in case Conkel would make a mistake and delete any of the material.
Triplett referred to the action Conkel had taken as “rearranging,” but Conkel reacted by saying she didn't rearrange anything, and that Triplett would have to talk with Dunham about why Dunham wanted the material copied.
Conkel said that the computer was sent to Detective Blaine Duduit, then taken to Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The trial resumes this morning.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, Ext.232.