Neosho Man Sentenced to 14 Years for Distribution of Child Pornography
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 10, 2013|
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Neosho, Missouri man with nearly 1,000 videos and images of child pornography on his computer has been sentenced in federal court for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.
Dustin William Merriman, 26, of Neosho, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner on Thursday, May 9, 2013, to 14 years in federal prison without parole.
Merriman, who pleaded guilty on December 19, 2012, was identified in two separate and unrelated investigations into the distribution of child pornography over the Internet conducted by the FBI in El Paso, Texas, and the New Zealand National Police.
Law enforcement officers confronted Merriman at his place of employment. He admitted that he had hundreds of videos and images of child pornography on his laptop, which was kept in a locker at work. A Joplin Police detective searched the laptop and located more than 1,000 video files; he viewed over 50 of these video files, which all depicted child pornography. The average age of the children depicted in the videos was between five and seven years old.
Merriman was arrested and officers seized his cell phone, which also contained child pornography.
Investigators conducted a full forensics examination of Merriman’s laptop computer and discovered 386 movies of child pornography and 560 images of child pornography.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the FBI; the Joplin, Missouri Police Department; and the New Zealand National Police.
Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “Resources.”