Wednesday, August 10, 2022

After Long Jury Selection Process, Child Pornography Trial Begins

Matthew John Stickle (Photo courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
Matthew John Stickle (Photo courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

After a mistrial was declared earlier this year in the case against a man accused of possessing child pornography, Matthew Stickle is once again facing a jury for those charges.

Stickle, a 44-year-old Williamsburg resident, faced 22 charges related to child pornography in June, but a hung jury led to the case being retried. His trial regarding those charges, along with three new ones, began Monday in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

The three new charges – all felony possession of child pornography – stem from three videos in which Stickle appears to engage in sexual acts with a minor, according to the Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, which successfully argued in August those videos should be admitted into evidence after they were not allowed in the first trial.

The jury is made up of six men and eight women, two of whom are alternates. The selection process lasted for most of the day, wrapping up around 4 p.m.

After a brief recess, both Green and Defense Attorney Patricia Nagel gave their opening statements before Judge Michael McGinty recessed again, this time to resume at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Green used his opening statement to address many of the issues Nagel raised during the June trial, including the fact that Stickle’s fiancée remembered using his computer once to access a program she, as a middle school teacher, needed to use to enter students’ grades months after telling authorities – and testifying under oath – she had never used his computer.

“I anticipate there will be a difference of opinion as to the weight that should be given,” Green said.

In the June trial, Nagel also criticized the lead investigator in the case for not tracking down others who had access to the computer. Green argues the investigator did not track anyone else because “there was no one individual who had access” throughout the time frame – 2010 through 2013 – child pornography was uploaded from that computer.

“Mr. Stickle was the individual who had access to the computer when the first image was uploaded to the last,” he said.

Nagel doubled-down on her defense from the last trial in her opening statement, saying Stickle’s fiancée is “not a believable person” and said she is “not sure [his fiancée] has ever told the truth in this case.”

She also used her opening statement to address the jury’s civic duty to remain unbiased as they see and hear testimony regarding “heinous” images and videos of child pornography.

“Take your emotions and put them in a place for safe-keeping because this case is not about how you feel about child pornography,” Nagel said, imploring the jurors to remember the prosecution has to prove –beyond a reasonable doubt – who put the images on the computer.

The trial, which will likely include the jury being shown excerpts of the 25 videos in question, is slated to last three days.

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