MIFFLINTOWN - A man serving a lengthy prison sentence on child pornography charges was granted a new trial on Tuesday and then promptly pleaded no contest to several of those charges.
Duke Psoras, 51, was convicted on Feb. 16. 2011, after a two-day jury trial in which jurors were shown nearly 400 graphic images of child pornography taken from the defendant's computer. Psoras was then sentenced in May 2011 to serve five to 15 years in a state correctional facility.
Psoras was granted a new trial after the court determined he had "ineffective assistance of counsel" provided by his former attorney Christopher Basner.
Judge Kenneth Mummah, who was the presiding judge over the jury trial said he could recall several instances during the trial when Basner presented evidence that the jury never should've heard or seen. Likewise, there were several opportunities missed by the defense to punch holes in the prosecution's case.
"There is no doubt in my mind that attorney Basner was ineffective," Mummah said.
Upon vacating Psoras' previous sentence, Mummah turned his attention to Psoras' new attorney Ralph Germak, who announced he and Juniata County District Attorney Cory Snook worked out a plea agreement.
Psoras agreed to plead no contest to four felony counts of possessing child pornography and he was sentenced to serve 20 to 40 months in a state correctional facility.
A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, it merely acknowledges that the prosecution would most likely gain a conviction should the case be heard by a jury. He will also have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law for the rest of his life.
Psoras has already served 22 months in prison and is technically eligible for parole.
Psoras' mother, Christine Ann Psoras, who testified at trial that she never witnessed her son viewing child pornography, said on Tuesday following court proceedings she was happy her son's ordeal was almost over.
Charges against Psoras came about after his wife Linda Barnett told police she suspected he may have molested their 4-year-old daughter. Barnett also told police she suspected her husband had been viewing child pornography on two computers, which she handed over to investigators to be examined.
During the first day of the trial, State Police Trooper Kevin Garhart, a forensic computer expert, testified the bulk of the images he obtained from Psoras's computer were from "temporary internet files" which are files stored on a computer from websites visited by the user.
Garhart further testified that he was only able to obtain one child pornography image from Psoras' computer that was actually downloaded and stored on the defendant's computer, which was last modified by someone in Aug. 2008. With the exception of that one image, the remaining temporary internet files were created in 2002.
Psoras did take the stand on the last day of the trial and told the jury he never intentionally downloaded child pornography to his computer, nor did he ever touch his daughter in an inappropriate manner. Psoras did however admit that someone sent him child pornography images while he was in an AOL chat room, but he contends he immediately deleted them because they were "vulgar," "appalling" and "gross."