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Court drops 18 criminal counts due to illegal search

Published April 20. 2011 05:00PM

Eighteen criminal charges filed against Joseph Chimahosky, 55, of Germanville Road, Ashland, were dismissed by Judge John E. Domalakes after a suppression hearing held in Schuylkill County court because of a defective search warrant.

He was charged with 17 counts of sexual abuse of children by possessing child pornography on his computer and one charge of criminal use of communication facility.

At the hearing Chief Edward Tarantelli, Butler Township police, told the court he received a telephone call from a repair man at Bit By Bit Computer Store claiming he found on a computer which the defendant brought in for repair two images of nude female children. Based on this information the police brought charges.

At the hearing counsel for Chimahosky argued that the images found were not pornographic and that the search warrant was not sufficient specific. The Commonwealth argued even if images were not pornographic a basis for issuance of the search warrant was proper.

Domalakes commented that the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure, thereby, guaranteeing the right of each individual to be left alone and that the Pennsylvania Constitution provides the same protection.

The judge pointed out in this instant case the defendant did not contest the viewing of the images but that they were not pornograhic. The court agreed and ruled the photographs referred in the affidavit of the search warrant simply were pictures of nude individuals and cannot by any stretch of imagination be a depiction for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification and ruled the search warrant was not based upon probable cause and the items seized must be suppressed and the charges dismissed.

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