A Crest Hill man who told police he viewed images of children having sex with animals to prevent him from killing his wife and two young children pleaded guilty to child pornography charges this morning and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Joshua Price, 27, was an infantryman who saw "direct combat" in the Iraq war and returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder, his attorney, Eric Mitchell, told a Will County judge.
In March, the Joliet Junior College student left behind a flash drive in a computer lab at the college. A JJC employee, trying to find out who owned it, opened the drive's contents and found what appeared to be child pornography, records show.
Police then searched the drive along with Price's home laptop and another flash drive found at his apartment. They found numerous pornographic images of children between the ages of 2 and 15, said Asst. State's Atty. Fred Harvey.
Authorities also found about 1,700 images of dismembered women on his computer, 15 pages of a story involving bestiality and an adult movie called "Teen Seduction," according to court records.
Harvey told the judge the extreme nature of the child pornography and Price's statements to police called for prison time rather than probation.
"Certainly defendant is a danger to society in that child pornography is what allows him to keep it together," he said.
Mitchell, Price's attorney, said there was "absolutely no excuse" for possessing the images, but noted that his client was not charged with creating them. He also told the judge his client had no criminal background and that an evaluation found Price was at "low to moderate" risk of re-offending.
Price also wants to get treatment for his PTSD, Mitchell said. He said about 12 people had written letters in support of Price, including his wife, who is in the process of divorcing him, Mitchell said.
His wife took out an order of protection against him after the charges were filed, but noted he had not abused her or their children, records show. The order expired last month when she didn't appear in court.
"I'm sorry for this," Price told the judge. "I promise not to come back."
The courtroom grew completely silent as Judge Edward Burmila said "it's shocking to this court" and described an image Price had involving a child under the age of 3.
Burmila also said it was "extremely troubling" that Price had brought child pornography with him to a college computer lab.
"You took the device to a public place, your desire to view this material was so strong," he said.
Burmila said Price deserved the maximum 7-year sentence but he was taking into account his service to the country in sentencing him to 4 years in prison.