David Paul Gruber – Guilty Child Pornography

n a voice barely audible at times, David Paul Gruber admitted in Lauderdale County Circuit Court on Thursday that he used his home computer to view pornographic images of children.

Gruber, 67, 190 Cedar Cove, Killen, who pleaded guilty Thursday to 15 counts of possession of child pornography, faces five years in prison. He also could be fined up to $1,500 for each charge.

He was indicted in November of 102 counts of possession of child pornography. His arrest came after a computer technician who was repairing Gruber’s computer discovered it had been used to search the Internet for pornographic material involving children. The technician contacted police. A police investigation revealed 102 photographs of children involved in sex acts and nude images of minors had been stored in the computer’s memory.

Gruber’s trial was scheduled to begin Monday.

Lauderdale Circuit Court Judge Mike Jones asked Gruber for his plea on each of the 15 counts during a hearing that lasted five minutes Thursday. Gruber, who was dressed in a brown suit, dress shirt and tie, responded “guilty.”

A sentencing hearing for Gruber is set for April 24. While awaiting sentencing he is free on a $50,000 bond.

As part of the plea agreement, Gruber must register as a sex offender.

Earlier Thursday, Jones denied a motion by Gruber’s defense attorney, Ralph Holt, of Florence, to suppress the evidence collected from the computer.

Holt contended police did not have probable cause to launch an investigation when they seized the computer from Excel Computer Services in August.

Florence police investigator Keith Johnson testified that he collected the computer Aug. 13 after being called to the computer store by Jim Fisher, owner of the business.

“He told me some of the titles of searches on the computer kind of made him alarmed and made him take note of what they were,” Johnson testified during a hearing on Holt’s motion asking that the evidence be suppressed.

Fisher testified during questioning by Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly that he had discovered phrases in the history of the Google search engine on Gruber’s computer that included incestuous references and numerous sexual references.

Johnson said after the computer was seized, he obtained a search warrant and the computer was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for testing. During the testing, the pornographic images of children were discovered.

During cross-examination by Holt, Johnson testified that while he did not attempt to search the titles found in Gruber’s Google history to determine if they would reveal links to pornographic Web sites, there are certain titles that indicate a computer had been used to view pornography.

Holt then questioned Fisher, who testified that while he did not attempt to search the phrases he found in Gruber’s Google search history, “It would be rather obvious what would come up if we attempted to search those terms.”

During cross-examination by Connolly, Fisher testified he accessed Gruber’s Google search history because he was trying to locate the source of a virus that had attacked the computer. He said Gruber had brought the computer to the Florence business for repair.

About an hour after Jones denied Holt’s motion to suppress evidence collected from Gruber’s computer, Gruber pleaded guilty to the charges.

Connolly said the plea agreement was a fair settlement of the case. He said in similar cases, the defendant received a prison sentence of 12 months to 70 months. The maximum sentence for possession of child pornography is 10 years.

“The big thing is he is going to have to register as a sex offender. That is a lifetime sentence,” Connolly said.

Holt said that none of the children shown in the pictures collected from Gruber’s computer are from the Shoals.

Holt said Gruber is remorseful. “Mr. Gruber is a greater person than has been depicted. He has a long history of service to the community and country.”

Published in: on February 3, 2008 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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