By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A former Quincy man was sentenced to probation Wednesday on a child pornography charge in Adams County Circuit Court.
Mark W. Sutton Jr., 32, of Neponset, was sentenced to 30 months probation by Scott Walden. Sutton earlier had pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography and faced a sentencing cap of two years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The fact Sutton had no previous felony convictions and performed well on a sex offender evaluation led to the sentence.
Sutton was evaluated by Dr. Keir Goaley, who said that Sutton was at a moderate to low risk to reoffend.
First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha said probation was the appropriate sentence because of Sutton's lack of previous criminality. He asked Walden to sentence Sutton to more time in the Adams County Jail, saying that the three days Sutton had served after his arrest were not sufficient.
"We hope that he gets it," Farha said. "He does not pose a significant risk to the public or else we would not be in this situation (to recommend probation)."
Sutton admitted to downloading child pornography on a personal computer when he lived in Quincy. Quincy Police Department detectives obtained a search warrant Oct. 13, 2009, for Sutton's computers. Sutton's ex-wife allowed the officers to take the computers. A forensic exam showed that a number of images identified as child pornography by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were found on one of the computers. Among those images was a photo of a 15-year-old girl engaging in sexual intercourse.
The forensic examination of the computers was completed in May 2012 and Sutton was not charged until April. He was arrested May 15 and originally pleaded guilty to child pornography Sept. 3. Judge William Mays refused to agree to the plea negotiation at an Oct. 23 sentencing hearing. He was concerned by what he read in the pre-sentence investigation and bothered by the fact Sutton had not undergone a sex offender evaluation.
Sutton entered another guilty plea in front of Walden on Dec. 4 and was ordered to get a sex offender evaluation done before Wednesday's hearing.
Chief Public Defender Holly Henze, who represented Sutton, said that her client was a good candidate for probation. She said he was a trusted employee, pays child support and that he was willing to go to whatever counseling was ordered by the court. She also asked that any additional jail time be stayed so that he could keep his current job. She said he lost another job when he was arrested on the charges.
Sutton made no mention of his crime when given the chance to talk during the hearing. He also asked Walden to keep him out of jail. He cited his job and the fact that he had to take care of his grandmother as the reasons why he wanted to stay out of jail.
Walden chided Sutton for regularly downloading child pornography.
"If no one looked, no one would make it," Walden said. "Every time someone looks a child is revictimized."
Walden went along with the recommendations by the prosecution, defense and the Adams County Probation Department to a sentence of probation, but put many contingencies on it. Sutton will have to undergo sex offender counseling. He is not allowed to have any contact with minors or go to places where minors congregate. He will not be allowed to get on the Internet, and he will have to register as a sex offender.
Walden ordered 100 days in the Adams County Jail, but stayed the rest of the jail sentence. He also fined Sutton $2,000. Sutton has been free since posting $2,000 bond May 16.