Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Huyck

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 22, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Michael Huyck Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Michael Huyck Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: November 16, 2016

         Appeals from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Omaha

          Before COLLOTON, BEAM, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

          GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

         Following a jury trial, Michael Huyck was convicted of multiple child pornography-related crimes. On appeal, he raises four issues, claiming that (1) the district court[1] erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to an allegedly stale search warrant, (2) the district court abused its discretion in admitting various exhibits, (3) the evidence did not support the jury's verdicts, and (4) the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a new trial. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In November 2012, the FBI seized a computer server in Bellevue, Nebraska that hosted child pornography websites on the "Tor" network. The Tor network is designed to allow users to surf the Internet anonymously and access otherwise hidden websites, including illegal websites like "Pedoboard, " which was strictly devoted to child pornography. To access the Tor network, a user downloads special software that obscures a user's Internet Protocol ("IP") address, thereby evading traditional law enforcement IP identification techniques.[2] Once on the Tor network, users must have a unique, sixteen-character web address to access the Pedoboard website. Unlike traditional web addresses, a Tor web address does not indicate the services or content available on the site. Thus, a Pedoboard user must obtain the web address from other users or from Internet postings describing Pedoboard's content. The most common way to find Pedoboard's web address was to access the "Hidden Wiki"-a directory of Tor hidden services providing the name of the hidden service, a description of its content, and the Tor web address. To identify people accessing Pedoboard, the FBI installed Network Investigative Technique ("NIT") software on the website, which revealed the true IP addresses of people accessing the site, the date and time the user accessed the content, and the user's computer operating system.

         The FBI controlled and monitored Pedoboard from November 16, 2012 to December 2, 2012. On November 21, 2012, an IP address linked to Huyck's residence utilized the Tor network and browsed Pedoboard for at least nine minutes. The computer used Windows XP and a Google Chrome browser. Huyck and his sixteen-year-old daughter were the only people present at his residence that night. No child pornography was downloaded during the visit.

         In early April 2013, law enforcement agents conducted physical surveillance of Huyck's residence. They noted that Huyck utilized an unsecured wireless network, though the signal strength was so weak that agents could not obtain the signal from the front yard of his residence. Agents prepared a search warrant for the residence, which was executed on April 9, 2013, more than four months after the November 2012 Pedoboard access date. Officers went to the basement of Huyck's residence and discovered a complex computer network. They also found a Hitachi 160GB hard drive, a G-Technology 2GB external storage drive, and a Molex 2GB thumb drive on his desk and among his personal belongings. Two computers were located underneath the desk, and neither used Windows XP or Google Chrome at the time of the search. However, one of the computers had been recently wiped clean of all data, and stickers on the computer towers indicated Windows 7 had been downgraded to Windows XP Pro. Huyck was the only adult living at the residence, and during the search, Huyck told officers that no one else had access to his computers and that he worked at Molex in an information technology position. Finally, Huyck admitted that he was familiar with and had used the Tor network, believing it to be anonymous.

         A forensic analysis of the Hitachi hard drive revealed ninety-five thumbnail images of child pornography in the thumbs.db file, though the images were not viewable without special software. Nonetheless, the thumbnail images indicated that original, full-size images were present on the Hitachi hard drive in 2010 but had been deleted by the time of the search. A forensic analysis of the G-Technology external storage drive revealed a text file with instructions on how to configure a computer to access the Tor network using a Google Chrome browser. The forensic analysis also exposed a list of Tor hidden services-including a link to the Onion Pedo Video Archive (OPVA), a different Tor child pornography website-and an image of a young girl, appearing to be under eighteen years of age, taking a picture with her genitalia showing. A forensic analysis of the Molex thumb drive revealed a picture of Huyck; another reference to the OPVA hyperlink; and a text file stating, "[H]ttps://opva2pilscvtwmh.onion/ Need to use download manager downthemall is good for some." The hyperlink was the Tor web address for OPVA. "Downthemall" is a download manager that helps a user efficiently download contents of an Internet website, such as child pornography, though it is commonly used for legal purposes.

         Based on this evidence, the Government charged Huyck with five offenses in two separate indictments, which were later consolidated for trial. In the first indictment, the Government charged Huyck with two crimes in connection with the Pedoboard activity: (1) receipt or attempted receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(2) and (b)(1) ("Pedoboard receipt count"); and (2) accessing with intent to view child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B) ("Pedoboard access count"). In the second indictment, the Government charged Huyck with three crimes related to evidence seized from his residence. In relation to the ninety-five images found on the Hitachi hard drive, the Government charged Huyck with (1) receipt or attempted receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(2) and (b)(1) ("Hitachi receipt count"); and (2) possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B) ("Hitachi possession count"). The last count was for possession of child pornography contained on the G-Technology external storage drive.

         Huyck moved to suppress evidence seized during the search of his residence, alleging that a four and one half-month delay between his browsing of Pedoboard and the warrant's issuance rendered the warrant fatally stale. The magistrate judge[3]recommended denying the motion to suppress, which the district court adopted. Huyck also moved to exclude Exhibits 16, 18, 23, 24, 27, 28, and 32, claiming unfair prejudice. Exhibits 23, 24, and 32 concerned the "downthemall" program, [4] and Exhibits 16, 18, 27, and 28 involved instructions for accessing and anonymizing the Tor network and references and links to OPVA.[5] The district court admitted all of the challenged evidence over Huyck's objections.

         After the close of evidence, the district court granted Huyck's motion for a judgment of acquittal as to the G-Technology possession count after finding that the Government had not sufficiently demonstrated that the person depicted in the image was under eighteen years of age. The district court provided the jury with a special verdict form for the Pedoboard receipt and Hitachi receipt counts. The verdict form allowed the jury to convict Huyck of receipt of child pornography, attempted receipt of child pornography, or neither.

         The jury began deliberations but asked the district court for supplemental instructions defining intent, knowledge, and access. The court provided minor clarifications but generally referred the jury back to its previous instructions. The jury then found Huyck guilty as to the Pedoboard receipt and access counts. It also returned an inconsistent response to the special verdict form on the Hitachi receipt count, finding Huyck guilty of receiving child pornography but not guilty of attempted receipt of child pornography. The jury concluded by finding Huyck guilty of the Hitachi possession count. The district court denied Huyck's motion for a judgment of acquittal except for the Hitachi receipt count, which it granted. It then denied Huyck's motion for a new trial because the remaining verdicts were supported by sufficient evidence. Finally, the court sentenced Huyck to 72 months' imprisonment on the Pedoboard receipt count, with concurrent 36-month sentences for the Pedoboard access and Hitachi possession counts. This appeal followed.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.