The future of a former Little Rock police officer accused of receipt and possession of child pornography will have to wait at least another day after a jury of nine women and three men told the judge they had reached a verdict on one count but wished to go home and resume deliberations today.
Eddie Scott Seaton, 55, was charged in a federal indictment with one count each of receipt of child pornography, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term.
His testimony was cut short when court adjourned Tuesday, and Seaton returned to the stand Wednesday morning for about 45 minutes to complete direct examination by his attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr., then finished with a tense cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ray White, who sparred with the defendant for about a half-hour, probing for weaknesses in Seaton's testimony.
Seaton denied downloading images of child pornography but admitted to numerous internet searches for anime images and said his interest in pornography stemmed from a life-long interest in drawing.
He vehemently denied ever accessing child pornography.
"It makes me sick, literally sick," he said. "I don't want to see it at all."
He said the computer at the center of the case against him was built for him in 2013 by an Indianapolis man he knew from attending anime conventions.
He said his interest in anime stemmed from an interest in drawing that began at a young age.
"I started out drawing Snoopy cartoons and it just went from there," he said.
"I'd draw just about anything. I drew stuff out of Playboy, which is one of the reasons I got into adult porn. From the computer it was easier to draw that than go out and be kind of creepy to a model and say, 'Hey, would you mind posing?'"
Seaton said he became interested in anime while in the military stationed overseas.
He said he began watching anime cartoons while in Japan and was drawn to themes of honor, friendship and loyalty and stories about coming of age and of loss.
"There's so many things that anime portrays," he said. "The first thing I was introduced to was a Sci-Fi anime called 'Bubble Gum Crisis.' I had it on VHS and that started my love of anime."
The stories introduced into evidence supporting the three anime images that formed the basis for the receipt count, he said, were fantasies penned by him at the age of 13.
"They say your past will come back to haunt you," he said. "Well, there you are."
He said the ideas for the stories he wrote came from sitting in the back of the school bus when he was young and listening to the stories being told by the older children.
"None of those were ever fleshed out as stories because I didn't have any experience," he said.
Seaton adamantly denied ever discussing child pornography with Kevin Hicks, his friend from college who testified Tuesday against Seaton and who was himself charged with child pornography receipt and possession after police who raided Seaton's home in December 2019 discovered child pornography videos on Hicks' laptop as well.
White asked Seaton if he was blaming the computer builder when he told the story about where he had gotten his computer.
"I don't know if he's responsible for the carved images on my computer or not," Seaton said. "I don't who's to blame for those, but I know it damn sure isn't me."
"But you did search for computer anime," White said, pointing to four binders approximately six inches thick filled with details of thousands of computer searches that were recovered from Seaton's computer.
"But you got into anime because the stories contained honor, friendship and loyalty," he said. "But that's not what your stories contain, right?"
"The ones I wrote when I was 13?" Seaton asked.
"The ones introduced as government exhibit three?" White said. "Tony's Drunk Mom? ... That's not what's in those stories. As a matter of fact, bondage, dual penetration and nonconsent are things that are in your stories, right?"
"That a 13-year-old wrote?" Seaton asked. "Yes."
"And a 52-year-old had them on a desk right by his computer," White said. "Isn't that right?"
After telling White that his recollection was that he told investigators he had written the stories as a child, Seaton continued.
"Those were fantasies," he said. "And I've never denied writing them. I regret writing them now because I'm...."
"I'm sorry, sir," said White, cutting him off. "I didn't ask you a question."
In closing the government's case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant said although an ability to read minds would make her job -- and the jury's -- much easier, she said mind reading wouldn't be necessary to render a verdict.
"You don't need that in this case because the defendant put his thoughts on paper," she said, referring to the story outlines found when police searched his house.
"If he's telling the truth and he kept these stories for decades, that clearly shows motive," Bryant said. "For him, words were not enough."
During Bryant's close, Seaton crossed his arms and faced the back of the courtroom, keeping his face turned away from the prosecutor and a computer monitor sitting on the defense table, one of several monitors scattered throughout the courtroom and the jury box for evidence display.
Seaton's attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr., hit back at the prosecution's points about the notes, suggesting that rather than being found next to Seaton's computer, they were photographed in his desk chair.
"It had to have been staged," he said. "It couldn't have been just sitting there waiting for someone to find it."
He said the anime drawings were insufficient to support the charges against Seaton.
"Child pornography requires real children. Those aren't real children," he said.
Hall said the theme on one of the photos, two teen boys having sex with an older woman, are a c0mmon theme in American literature and movies, pointing out such movies as "Summer of '42," "American Pie," or "Notes on a Scandal," as evidence of that.
"It may be immoral," he said. "It may be taboo. But it is a fantasy and it's in American popular media."
Marshall ordered the jury to return at 10:30 a.m. today to resume deliberations.