David Keith Merriman Sentenced in U.S. District Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on December 19, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, DAVID KEITH MERRIMAN, a 57-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. MERRIMAN was sentenced to a term of:
Prison: 96 months
Special Assessment: $100
Forfeiture: computer equipment
Supervised Release: 15 years
MERRIMAN was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to receipt of child pornography.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Beginning in January 2010, a Missoula Police Department detective found that a computer user later determined to be residing at a specific known address in Billings had child pornography videos available via a peer-to-peer file sharing network. Additional investigation by the FBI in Billings found that the resident was MERRIMAN.
A search warrant was obtained for the residence and served on April 16, 2010. Contact was made with MERRIMAN who admitted that he had used the peer-to-peer file sharing software but stopped answering questions when the topic turned to child pornography.
Agents seized various computer equipment at MERRIMAN's residence. Subsequent forensic examination revealed over 101 videos and over 4,200 images of child pornography that MERRIMAN had received via the Internet for years and continued until the equipment was seized. MERRIMAN received images and movies of children clearly prepubescent and children engaged in sadistic or masochistic abuse or other depictions of violence.
MERRIMAN called an acquaintance in July 2010 and reported that he had fled Billings to avoid being arrested. He was arrested later in another state.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that MERRIMAN will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, MERRIMAN does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Billings Police Department, and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.