Convictions, Sentences For Weapons, Assault, Robbery, Child Pornography

A 41-year-old Wilmington man faces at least 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to weapons charges. Deputy Attorney General Allison Abessinio secured the plea from Robert Johnson. During a fight in September 2016, Johnson stabbed 57-year-old Carl Huggins multiple times in his home in the 400 block of North Church Street in Wilmington. The two had argued earlier in the day. Johnson pled guilty to Assault First Degree and two counts of Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony. A Superior Court judge will sentence Johnson in December and faces 6 to 75 years.

Deputy Attorneys General Anna Currier, Barzilai Axelrod, and William Leonard secured a guilty plea from John Trotter, 42, of Wilmington, after his arrest following an investigation into heroin sales. Paralegal Bridgitt Martin assisted in the case as well. In August 2016, police arrested Trotter when a New Castle County Police SWAT team executed a search warrant at his home in the 200 block of Clyde Street in Wilmington. Earlier that summer, police observed Trotter sell heroin to an informant. Trotter pled guilty to Drug Dealing Tier 4 Heroin, Conspiracy Second Degree, and Possession of a Destructive Weapon. Trotter also pled guilty to Assault Second Degree for a July 2016 arrest for punching his girlfriend during an argument. Social Worker Stacey Murphy assisted with the July 2016 case. Trotter faces between 2 and 40 years when sentenced by a Superior Court judge in December.

Deputy Attorney General Anna Currier secured a prison sentence for a Wilmington man for his plea to robbery and weapons charges. Throughout the summer of 2016, Michael Watson, 29, stole several firearms from his father. In September of that year, Watson robbed the Valero gas station in the 800 block of South Dupont Highway in New Castle, threatening the clerk with a knife. Deputy Attorney General Kelly Sheridan secured a guilty plea from Watson in Superior Court in August 2017 to Robbery First Degree, Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, Robbery Second Degree and Theft of a Firearm. A judge sentenced Watson to 5 years in prison, followed by 6 months of either work release or home confinement, then 2 ½ years of probation.

A 50-year-old Smyrna man was sentenced to prison and must register as a Tier II sex offender in relation to child pornography charges. In February 2017, members of the Child Predator Task Force conducted a search warrant at Michael Dennis’s home, and found images of children involved in prohibited sexual acts as defined by Delaware law. Dennis pled guilty in August to 2 counts of Dealing in Child Pornography and 2 counts of Possession of Child Pornography. A Superior Court judge sentenced Dennis to serve 6 years in prison, followed by 3 years of probation.

Child Predator Task Force Makes Two Arrests

Two separate investigations by the Delaware Department of Justice’s Child Predator Task Force has resulted in the arrests of two men.

In the first case, an undercover investigation by the Child Predator Task Force led to the arrest of a Maryland man working as a martial arts instructor in Delaware under a false name in an apparent attempt to hide his identity as a registered sex offender.

On February 27, 37-year-old James Blankenship Jr., of Barclay, Maryland, was arrested after being extradited back to Delaware.

Late last year, the Task Force believes Blankenship began a chat conversation with an undercover investigator on a social network, then moved the conversation to texting. In ensuing conversations, the person being communicated with was told numerous times he was communicating with an underage boy, which he indicated that he was okay with.

An investigation into Blankenship revealed that he had a prior Maryland conviction in 2006 for sexual abuse of a minor, and was employed as a Maryland certified police officer at the time of that arrest. The investigation also revealed Blankenship was an active martial arts instructor in Delaware, using the alias name of Mark Hafer to avoid detection as a registered sex offender.

Blankenship was charged with two counts of sexual solicitation of a minor. He was arraigned and taken to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, held on $100,000.00 cash bail.

James Blankenship a.k.a Mark Hafer
James Blankenship a.k.a Mark Hafer

On March 10, the Child Predator Task Force, with the assistance of a Delaware State Trooper, executed a search warrant at 1223 Kynlyn Drive in Wilmington, related to an investigation into the distribution of child pornography on the Internet.

When the search warrant was executed, detectives found 29-year-old Samuel Diamond, who said he lived alone in the home, and owned all of the computers and electronic devices in the residence. Detectives recovered several computers, external hard drives, and other electronic media evidence, that during a forensic preview, showed more than 25 images/videos of child pornography.

Diamond was charged with 25 counts of Dealing in Child Pornography. He was arraigned and ordered held on a secure bond of $500,000.00 at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center pending further court action.

Samuel Diamond
Samuel Diamond

Biden, 43 colleagues support federal legislation providing restitution to child pornography victims

Washington, D.C. – Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and his colleagues in 43 U.S. states and territories voiced support today for a Congressional proposal that would provide financial support for victims of child pornography. The Attorneys General sent a letter today to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a House Judiciary Subcommittee calling on federal lawmakers to vote this year on the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2301/H.R. 4981).

The legislation would allow full restitution to victims of child pornography to pay for needed resources including therapy, medical care, lost wages and other services. In April 2014, the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in Paroline v. United States affirmed that victims of child pornography should receive restitution, but defendants are only liable for their actions, not the conduct of others.

“Victims of child pornography are constantly reminded of the abuse of their past, and there is no way to erase the photographs from the Internet or prevent them from being shared by others,” Biden and his colleagues wrote in their letter. This legislation “provides victims with meaningful restitution from multiple defendants who produce, distribute or possess images of child pornography, including those who have not been identified.”

“Providing timely and meaningful restitution will ensure that the growing number of victims can begin to rebuild their lives by fully recovering the financial losses caused by child pornography,” the Attorneys General wrote.

Child pornography is growing in the United States and according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, cases prosecuted for possession, distribution, receipt, and transportation of child pornography increased from 624 cases in 2004 to over 2,000 cases in 2012. With the Internet and other new technologies, child pornography is more easily attainable and has led to increased victimization and trafficking in order to meet the demand.

In 2007, Biden established the Delaware Child Predator Task Force and worked with legislators to establish tough minimum mandatory sentences for those who deal in child pornography. Since then, the Task Force’s work has led to the conviction of more than 200 predators and the rescue of more than 100 children from abusive situations.

“Nothing is more important than protecting our kids,” Biden said. “The Child Predator Task Force puts prosecutors and police side by side to track down the worst of society and stop them from hurting any more children.”

The letter can be found HERE.

Christopher Wheeler arrested on child pornography charges

Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden’s office announced today that the Delaware Child Predator Task Force has secured the arrest of Christopher Wheeler.

An arrest warrant was obtained for Wheeler on October 30 after Child Predator Task Force detectives recovered multiple images of child pornography on computers seized by investigators during an October 22 search of Wheeler’s Wilmington home and office.

The Child Predator Task Force made arrangements for Wheeler to turn himself in to detectives this afternoon at Delaware State Police Troop #2, where he was taken into custody and  charged with 25 counts of dealing in child pornography.  Wheeler was subsequently arraigned via videophone by Justice of the Peace Court #2 and was taken to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in lieu of $1.5 million cash bail.

The criminal investigation conducted jointly by the Delaware Department of Justice and the Wilmington Police Department is ongoing.  A booking image of Wheeler is not available at this time.

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Department of Justice, Wilmington Police looking for Christopher Wheeler

Wilmington – As part of a criminal investigation conducted jointly by the Delaware Department of Justice and the Wilmington Police Department, a search warrant was executed on October 22, 2013 at the home and office of 53 year-old Christopher Wheeler in the 1500 Block of Mount Salem Lane in Wilmington.  During the search, multiple computers and other digital media, along with other evidence, were seized.  A forensic examination of the computers and digital media conducted by the Delaware Child Predator Task Force recovered multiple images of child pornography.

As a result of the investigation, Child Predator Task Force detectives secured an arrest warrant yesterday, October 30, charging Wheeler with 25 counts of Dealing in Child Pornography.

Detectives are currently looking for Wheeler.  The Delaware Department of Justice and Wilmington Police Department are asking anyone who may have information to assist in locating Wheeler to immediately contact Wilmington Police Detective Cecilia Ashe at (302) 576-3649.

The joint criminal investigation of the Delaware Department of Justice and Wilmington Police Department is ongoing.

A photo of Wheeler is below.

Christopher Wheeler

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