The trial of an Ellis man charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child is expected to wrap up Friday.
The trial of Michael Anderson began Thursday morning in Ellis County District Court with jury selection and opening statements, followed by testimony from Anderson’s ex-wife, as well as a law enforcement official and Anderson himself.(tncms-asset)3834191a-e699-57c0-810c-81558eb2f0ed"}}
After the jury was seated at approximately 11:30 a.m., Crystalyn Oswald, assistant Ellis County attorney, and defense attorney Alex Herman gave opening statements.
The court proceedings are in front of Kansas Senior Judge Edward Bouker.
Anderson is suspected of possessing sexually explicit images and video of children on or about March 30, 2015.
It was revealed in testimony that Anderson’s ex-wife allegedly found suspicious evidence upon the two splitting and her moving items from their home in Ellis to a storage unit in Hays. She contacted Detective Brad Ricke with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office about two compact discs initially.
“We had gone into a shed, and there was a box Michael had kept all his stuff in,” the ex-wife said in testimony.
The ex-wife said the box contained Anderson’s pornography. She earlier said she was suspicious after doing a history search of a computer and found an inappropriate child pornography listing.
“Have you personally ever witnessed Mr. Anderson looking at child pornography?” Herman asked under cross examination.
“Not child pornography,” she answered.
In testimony, Ricke said he did a thorough examination using high-tech equipment to determine what was on the two discs.
“Did you find child exploitative images on a disc?” Oswald asked.
“Yes,” Ricke replied, further mentioning a combined 49 images and videos were found.
Law enforcement later was provided a computer tower and an external hard drive, which revealed more explicit images of children.
The jurors also heard portions of two interviews Ricke did with Anderson, one in May and the other in June 2015.
In the May interview, Ricke asked Anderson about the images.
“Had I known that stuff was on there, I would have destroyed it,” he said in the interview. “I don’t watch that (expletive). … I’ve never looked at child pornography — never have.”
Anderson told Ricke he had been given the CDs from a friend and he didn’t know what was on them, assuming they were being used for wedding photos.
In the June interview, Anderson said the images must have been on the computer tower and discs when he got them from a friend.
Ricke informed Anderson additional images were found on the newly tested devices.
Ten images were shown to the jury of eight men and five women — one will serve as an alternate.
Anderson shielded his eyes during the showing of the photos, not looking at the TV screen.
On cross examination, Herman brought into question Ricke’s failure to check on any other potential suspects, including Anderson’s former brother-in-law.
Upon the state resting its case just before 4 p.m., Anderson took the stand in his own defense.
He said the discs were purchased by his ex-wife from Walmart and not given from a friend.
“Prior to the images being shown in court, had you ever seen the images before?” Herman asked.
“Absolutely not,“ Anderson said.
Oswald questioned how the images could have gotten on the disc, and Anderson said he was trying to back up one of the computers for his ex-wife. He earlier said the images on the computer must have been on there when he was given it.
“So the only thing that got backed up was the images of child pornography?” she asked.
“That was my mistake,” the defendant answered.
Herman asked his client why he had changed his story about where the discs came from.
“I don’t know,” Anderson said. “Because I was scared.”
Oswald kept her re-cross examination short.
“Were you scared because you were the one who actually possessed the child pornography?” she asked.
“No, maam,” Anderson said.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday morning before the jury deliberates.