Max sentence sought after American Idol contestant's child porn conviction

Max sentence sought after American Idol contestant's child porn conviction
Cox being detained after the verdict is read (Source: WSFA 12)
Cox being detained after the verdict is read (Source: WSFA 12)

ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - An Elmore County jury found former American Idol contestant Brandon Cox guilty on Friday on seven counts of possession of child pornography. Cox was immediately taking into custody following the verdict.

Forensic experts and an agent who investigates child exploitation cases for the State Bureau of Investigation took nearly 20 hours showing technical and explicit testimony during the trial.

Cox took the stand as the defense's only witness Thursday where he stated multiple times he did not know what was on his computer because he had only used it to download music for various shows he auditioned for in 2011.

A knock at the jury room door came after nearly five hours of deliberation. The jury found that Cox downloaded 275 files of child pornography on his computer, horrific images and videos they struggled to watch during each day of the trial.

Cox stood as the jury walked back into the courtroom, and sat in the jury box. The foreperson read through each count, followed by, guilty. Cox never looked at the jury as the verdicts were read.

Judge Sibley Reynolds profiled the jury, revoked Cox's bond, and asked the bailiff to take Cox into custody.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Kristi Peoples stated in terms of the vile evidence and the vast number of files, it was the worst child pornography case she's ever tried.

"It's been a long, hard week," Peoples stated. "We presented explicit evidence, it was tough to see and tough to hear.  We are happy with the verdict, and we feel the jury made the right decision."

Not only did the graphic videos and pictures test the faith of some of the jurors, it was highly technical.

State Bureau of Investigation Agent Kathy Stewart, who investigates child exploitation, and forensic expert Laurie Evans testified about how they found the illegal files, traced it to Cox's hard drives, and how those were extracted to prove he knowingly downloaded the material. Critical details, that are very difficult to explain.

"That is something we worked very hard on, how to simplify this for the jury because it was so technical," Peoples stated. "But because of our agents from ALEA and our forensic examiner who helped us explain everything, we were able to do that. We thank them for their thorough investigation."

Cox must now register as a sex offender. The state is requesting the maximum penalty of 70 years in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 12, 2017.

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