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Cameron Travelstead v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 30, 2017

CAMERON TRAVELSTEAD A/K/A CAMERON RAY TRAVELSTEAD A/K/A CAM TRAVELSTEAD APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/08/2015

         HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. JEFF WEILL SR.

          FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER

          BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER.

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ROBERT SHULER SMITH.

         EN BANC.

          IRVING, P.J.

         ¶1. Cameron Travelstead appeals the judgment of the Hinds County Circuit Court finding him guilty of exploitation of a child. He argues that he deserves a new trial because the circuit court improperly admitted certain hearsay testimony, allowed improper closing argument by the State, permitted the illegal amendment of the indictment, refused to give a proper jury instruction, and excluded relevant defense evidence. Travelstead also argues that he deserves a new trial because he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

         ¶2. We find no merit to any of Travelstead's arguments; therefore, we affirm his conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         ¶3. A substantial portion of the evidence supporting Travelstead's conviction was gathered by the use of a peer-to-peer networking software program called FrostWire. Peer-to-peer networking software allows users to share electronic media between themselves directly over the internet. Once a user installs FrostWire, a folder is created in which the user can download files directly from other network users and likewise directly share the contents of that folder with other users of the networking software who search for content using FrostWire. Law enforcement has developed software to detect files being shared on peer-to-peer networks that have file names or other unique digital signatures called "hash values" associated with child pornography. This gives law enforcement the ability to generate reports of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that download and share suspected child pornography. On January 31, 2010, Jay Houston, the deputy commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, working through the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, received a report.[1] After reviewing the hash values of the images contained in the report and independently determining that the photos were child pornography, Houston obtained a grand jury subpoena to obtain the identity of the person associated with the IP address from which the files had been downloaded.

         ¶4. The IP address from which the suspected child pornography was downloaded belonged to Comcast account holder Joel Travelstead, Travelstead's uncle. After obtaining a search warrant, agents went to Joel's home and found Travelstead there. After Mirandizing Travelstead, the agents questioned him, and he admitted to downloading pornography to his laptop computer.[2] The agents later performed a forensic exam of Travelstead's computer and found numerous deleted photos constituting child pornography, as well as child-pornography search terms used in searches that had been performed using the computer's search engines.

         ¶5. Travelstead was indicted, pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-5-33(5) (Rev. 2007), on one count of exploitation of a minor by possessing child pornography. He was later convicted and sentenced to twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with eight years suspended and twelve years to serve, plus five years of post-release supervision. He now appeals.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Hearsay

         ¶6. "We review a trial court's decision to admit or exclude evidence under an abuse[-]of[- ]discretion standard. Questions of law are reviewed under a de novo standard of review." Anthony v. State, 23 So.3d 611, 616 (¶20) (Miss. Ct. App. 2009) (internal citation omitted).

         ¶7. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) collects and stores images or photos of past victims of child pornography into a database to catch future perpetrators. The agents in this case used this database and testified that they recognized several of the photos found on Travelstead's computer. Based on that information, the agents ...


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