ABC's Jim Avila's Interview With Andrew Thomas, District Attorney, Maricopa County

ByABC News
January 12, 2007, 5:15 PM

Jan. 12, 2007— --

JIM AVILA:So letlet's look at this case of this 15 year old boyFirst of all, what happened to the case? Police go to his house. Guns drawn, uh, 6 o'clock in the morning, quiet cul-de-sac in Phoenix. Wake up Mom and Dad, with guns in their faces. A gun to the 16 year-old who's up in the second floorbring him down, accuse him of child pornography. He's charged with nine counts. It could have been 90 years. It's a two year process. At the end of the day, he's charged with a crimewhich I doubt you've ever charged anybody with before as an initial crimeWhat happened in your view?

ANDREW THOMAS:Well, andand just to clarify, in terms of the police action, uh, this office wouldn't have had control over that, and II frankly don't know the exact facts ofof how the search warrants were executed. But there were search warrants obtained from a court of law that wereuh, were executed. And as a result of that, evidence was found uh, linking uh, this juvenile defendant with thewith possession of child pornography on his computer. He was

JIM AVILA:(Overlap) What was the evidence that linked him to it?

ANDREW THOMAS:Well, ininitially, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children uh, came into contact with the Phoenix police department. Theyas a result of that tip, and evidence uh, linking that computer to a yahoo web site were able to work with our office, obtain search warrants. And uh, they went in and uh, conducted that uh, uhthat investigation.

ANDREW THOMAS:They then spoke to the uhthe juvenile who made uh, certain admissions. Uh, while he denied accessing adult uh, pornography, he did admit to being a part of uh, accessing uh, adult pornography and


ANDREW THOMAS:The juvenile admitted that uh, while heor he saidthe juvenile said that uh, while he did not access child pornography, he did uh, access adult pornography asas part of uh, aa groupa web site that he uh, went onto on the Internet. So you have all of that evidence plus some incriminating statements. And as a result of that, thethe case was brought. But as is

JIM AVILA:(Overlap) I just want to get


JIM AVILA:specific on that.


JIM AVILA:Because you say all of that evidence. When you listen carefully to what you said, the evidence was that again, there were some pictures on his computer that were child pornography.


JIM AVILA:You didn't have any admissions by him that he had anything to do with child pornography.


JIM AVILA:Okay. There was no evidence that you found that directly linked him to it, because it was a computer in the family's home.

ANDREW THOMAS:No, he admitted uhnot to hehe did admit to the fact that it was his computer. He admitted to the fact that he had used that computer to access uh, the web sites where he frequented adult pornography. And he, admitted that that was the computer that he used for going onto the Internet. Soand it wasit was the computer that he used and it was

JIM AVILA:(Overlap) Whowho else used that computer in the family?

ANDREW THOMAS:Well, thetherethere may have been other people in the family who used it, but herehere's the thing. Uh, theand II beganor at some point, I started to talk about the individthe need for individualized justice.

JIM AVILA:So there was a huge amount of evidence that in fact, this kid was not involved in a sex crime. And yet, your office and you yourself continue to believe and put him through two years of hell, because you continue to believe despite lie detector tests, court psychiatrist reports, a report from the computer expert who said it could have come from anywhereyou continue to say

ANDREW THOMAS:(Overlap) Well

JIM AVILA:that he did it.

ANDREW THOMAS:Well, Iagain, II'm not sure that that's totally right. But you gotta

JIM AVILA:(Overlap) Halfway right?

ANDREW THOMAS:you gotta (Inaudible)

JIM AVILA:(Overlap) (Inaudible) right here.