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Former Putnam City Band Teacher Sentenced in Child Porn Case

28-Nov-2014

Nearly two years ago, Hefner Middle School band director Eric Mowery was arrested after he was accused of sharing child pornography files with an undercover Guthrie police officer working with a local Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. Mowery resigned from the Putnam City School District the month following his arrest. He was charged with multiple counts related to child pornography, including possession, distribution, and violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.

This spring, Mowery entered a blind plea to seven criminal counts: 

  • Six counts of possession of obscene material involving the participation of a minor under 18 in violation of 21 O.S. § 1024.2
  • One count of distributing child pornography in violation of 21 O.S. § 1021.2
  • One count of use of a computer for the purpose of violating Oklahoma statutes in violation of 21 O.S. § 1958

A blind plea is a type of guilty plea that is often risky for the defendant. Often, when a defendant pleads guilty to a crime, he or she does so as part of a plea agreement. In an arranged plea, the defendant's guilty plea helps both sides avoid the time and expense of a jury trial, and the defendant typically pleads to reduced charges, fewer counts, or with the understanding that he or she will receive a lesser sentence than what might be given after a jury trial.

A blind plea, however, comes with no such assurances. When the defendant enters a blind plea, he or she essentially throws himself or herself at the mercy of the court.

This week Mowery, 40, learned exactly what the ramifications of his blind plea would be. Oklahoma County District Judge Glenn Jones sentenced the former teacher to a 10-year suspended sentence for distributing child pornography, and a 5-year suspended sentence on all remaining counts, with both sentences to run concurrently.

Mowery, whose attorney says he has been working with a therapist since his arrest, is also ordered to continue counseling and treatment for another four years. 

A suspended sentence allows a person to serve probation instead of going to prison. As long as the convicted person complies with the terms of his or her probation, he or she will be allowed to remain in the community rather than behind bars. In many cases, when the person is not considered to be a threat to society, is not at high-risk of re-offending, and is undergoing treatment for underlying issues which may have led to the crime, a suspended sentence makes more sense than incarceration.

If a person does not abide by the terms of his or her probation, however, the district attorney can file a motion to revoke the suspended sentence, which sends the convicted person to prison for the remainder of the sentence.



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