A jury of Miller County citizens is scheduled to hear closing arguments Wednesday morning in the trial of a 73-year-old Fouke, Ark., man accused of possessing a large collection of child pornography.
Ronald Antoniello is charged with 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. Each count is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and three to ten years in prison.
Special Prosecutor Will Jones of the Arkansas Office of Attorney General called two investigators with his office’s Cyber Crimes Division to testify Tuesday for the state. Special Agent James Lett told the jury he first acquired images July 26, 2014, of known child pornography later traced to Antoniello’s internet address.
During a search of Antoniello’s home Sept. 3, 2014, computer hard drives, photographs, and other digital storage medium were seized, Lett testified. Lett testified that a box of nude “Barbie and Ken” dolls found in Antoniello’s home raised, “red flags.” Lett said printed copies of child pornography printed from Antoniello’s computer were found lying on the floor.
Lett said Antoniello used file sharing software that allows users to trade music, photos and videos over the internet, which created a file on his computer of pornographic images that other users could access. Lett said many of the allegedly pornographic images have been confirmed as depicting minors by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and FBI.
Lett testified that a digital camera found in Antoniello’s house contained photos of a young girl getting off a school bus and walking down a street which appeared to have been shot by someone sitting in Antoniello’s car.
Texarkana lawyer Carolyn Whitefield, who represents Antoniello with Texarkana lawyer Garnet Norwood, asked Lett and forensic computer examiner Chris Cone, if they could be certain Antoniello knew the images on his computer could be accessed by others.
Cone told the jury he identified approximately 3,000 photos and videos of child pornography on the materials taken from Antoniello’s residence on Miller County 10. Jones played 30 clips corresponding to the 30 criminal counts for the jury.
As the disturbing videos depicting the sexual abuse of children were played, some jurors looked away while others appeared near tears. The offensive videos contained depictions of extreme sexual abuse of children as young as two. All the victims were prepubescent.
The defense called one witness, Howard Hall, to testify on Antoniello’s behalf. Hall described Antoniello as a close friend of 30 years who he deems a “law-abiding” citizen.
Antoniello is currently free on $150,000 bail. A verdict in the case is expected Wednesday.