Gardner gets 27 years for child porn

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A 37-year-old Post Falls man was sentenced Wednesday in Coeur d’Alene to 27 years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography.

Edward Lee Gardner, who was convicted by a jury of two counts of sexual exploitation of a child by distribution of sexually explicit material, and eight counts of sexual exploitation of a child by possession of sexually explicit material, was arrested in 2016 after a lengthy investigation by several law enforcement agencies.

Police serving a warrant at Gardner’s Post Falls home discovered some 900 files containing child pornography in Gardner’s computer.

A computer repairman, Gardner told investigators that the child porn was likely on the computers when he received them, though he admitted to authorities that he had pornography stored on his computers and using search terms such as “preteen hardcore” and “infants” and searching for pornography of 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds, according to prosecutors.

“He had computers everywhere,” deputy prosecutor Jed Whitaker said.

Gardner’s defense team argued that the images may have been computer-generated and therefore were not technically child pornography.

Many of the images that were recovered had been deleted, Whitaker said, requiring intensive investigations.

“These cases are big investigations,” he said.

Part of the delay stemmed from the time it took experts to examine each image.

Forensic specialists from the Internet Crimes Against Children task force were able to recover the deleted images from unallocated space on Gardner’s computer, Whitaker said.

After a three-day trial in March, a jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Gardner guilty.

Each count of sexual exploitation of a child by distribution of sexually explicit material carries a maximum 30 years behind bars. Sexual exploitation of a child by possession of sexually explicit material carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

The combined sentence imposed by First District Judge Benjamin Simpson will require Gardner to serve 12 years fixed and an additonal 15 years indeterminate.

The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a statewide coalition of agencies tasked with apprehending and prosecuting people who use the internet to exploit children.

Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh praised the work of the ICAC Task Force, the Post Falls Police Department, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, the Moscow Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals Service for their work.

“This was a very disturbing case involving vulnerable children and highly offensive conduct,” McHugh said. “Consumers of child pornography play a role in the continued abuse of children.”

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