A 56-year-old South Boston man, Jerry Wayne Remines, was found guilty of 11 counts of possession of child pornography in Halifax County Circuit Court Tuesday. 

Judge Kimberley S. White rendered the verdict after Remines pleaded not guilty to the felonious charges: one charge of possession of child pornography, first offense, and 10 charges of possession of child pornography, second or subsequent offense. 

Remines’ sentencing for those charges will take place at a later date. 

He could face a maximum prison sentence of up to 105 years for the charges.

After Remines entered his plea of “not guilty” on the child pornography charges, a bench trial began in Tuesday’s late morning hours, continuing throughout the day and into the evening. 

During the trial, the commonwealth of Virginia called witnesses who brought evidence against Remines that was both thorough and painstaking at times and led White to deliver her guilty verdict.

Remines’ attorney, Matt C. Pinsker, told White he could not dispute the facts of the case against his client, but the question was legality, and he argued that there was no legal precedent in the Commonwealth of Virginia that viewing child pornography equates to legality. 

Judge White replied that in fact, viewing images of child pornography gets to “the heart” of the laws on child pornography. She went on to say that possession means you “exercise dominion and control over something” and that by clicking on the images of child pornography, Remines was exercising dominion and control over them.

“Was this an accident? Not according to the evidence we have right now,” White said, regarding Remines’ viewing of the child pornography. 

She added, “Every single time an image is viewed and clicked on, a child is victimized again.”

Pinsker also argued, “The only place where child pornography was located (on the defendant’s phone) was on the thumbnail cache. There was no evidence that the defendant had knowledge of the content of that cache.” 

Remines’ attorney added that accessing the thumbnail cache requires special software not accessible to the average person.

The Commonwealth argued that the cache files were evidence of the activities Remines was conducting on his phone from August through October 2019, and that child pornography was accessed on multiple days, and on some of those days on multiple occasions, by the person in possession of the iPhone 8+, which was determined to be Remines solely.

Special Agent James Trogdon and Special Agent Travis Barr with the Virginia State Police, witnesses for the Commonwealth, both testified about the images of child pornography that they extracted from Remines’ locked phone using specialized software. 

During his initial perusal of the applications on Remines’ phone even prior to the extraction of the data, Barr testified that he noticed a TOR browser, an application needed for a user to connect to the “dark web.” 

After extracting the data, Barr testified that he took note of a bookmark of a search related to child pornography.

Trogdon testified that he noted in his review of the extracted data that the majority of the child pornography was located on caches stored in three different applications: the Mewe application, a social media/ chat application; the VK application, a social networking application appearing to be of Russian origin; and the Mega application, an online file sharing application. 

In accessing his chat history on Mewe, Trogdon uncovered a comment to another user by Remines: “Feel free to add me to any of your taboo or young groups.” 

Trogdon also stated that most of the child pornography on Remines’ phone – 96 images – were located on the Mega application. 

“Was there any user interaction with images that came through Mega?” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Bowen asked Trogdon. 

Trogdon replied that yes, with that particular type of cache, the user did have interaction with the images.

Prior to his trial, Remines denied having any knowledge of having child pornography on his phone in an interview conducted by Detective Tiffany Bratton and Detective Chris Carswell of the South Boston Police Department. A tape of the interview was played in the courtroom Tuesday. 

“I don’t have any explanation as to why child pornography should be on my phone,” Remines told Bratton and Carswell in the tape of the interview.

The Commonwealth of Virginia posited in their case against Remines that he used the cloak of his military service to give the impression of conducting a respectable business while in actuality using his business to engage in illicit activities. 

The veteran ran an electronics repair shop, Airborne Electronics Repair, with the name a tribute to his service in the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. 

Bowen related for those gathered in the courtroom at Remines’ trial the series of events that led to the charges brought against Remines. 

Sgt. Adam Whitmore of the South Boston Police Department had taken his phone to Remines’ shop to be repaired. Whitmore was told by Remines that his phone was beyond repair, so he purchased another phone, Bowen related. 

When Whitmore pulled up his backup Google drive, he saw that several photos of a sensitive/explicit nature had been sent from his old phone to the phone number associated with Remines’ shop. 

Whitmore shared the information with Detective Bratton, and Bratton secured a search warrant for Remines’ 304 Yates St. home. 

A total of 10 electronic devices were seized from Remines’ home during the execution of that warrant. 

At that time, Bratton handed the phone to Special Agent Barr, who took the phone back to his state police office and performed an extraction of the data. 

The data extraction revealed the images of child pornography on Remines’ phone. Barr shared those findings with Bratton, who secured a second search warrant for Remines’ home and arrested Remines on Nov. 26.

Bowen stated that during the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Remines accessed explicit photos on the phones of several of his female customers at his phone repair shop without their permission.

Several of those victims were present in the courtroom Tuesday during his sentencing for those crimes of computer trespassing, for which he pleaded guilty. 

White sentenced Remines on a total of six misdemeanor charges: five counts of computer trespassing and one count of filming a non-consenting nude individual. 

For each of the computer trespassing charges, White sentenced Remines to 12 months in prison with all but two months of that sentence suspended.

For the charge of filming a non-consenting nude individual, White sentenced Remines to 12 months in prison with all but six months of that time being suspended. 

The suspensions of those sentences are conditioned upon Remines’ good behavior for 24 months from his sentencing date. 

White’s sentencing also includes 24 months of supervised probation from Remines’ date of release from custody, forbids Remines from having any contact with any of his victims, forbids him from owning or operating any electronics or repair business and requires him to submit to a psychosexual evaluation within 60 days of release from custody.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.