Man convicted in child pornography case resentenced

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WALLA WALLA — A man initially ordered to serve 17 years in prison for possessing child pornography in August 2007 got his sentence cut in half Tuesday.

Michael N. Belford, now a 21-year-old inmate at the Washington State Penitentiary, was resentenced by Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht as required in a recent ruling by the state Court of Appeals in Spokane.

Schacht ordered Belford to serve eight-and-a-half years for one count of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. It’s the top end of the 77- to 102-month standard-range prison term Belford faced.

He was convicted by a jury in January 2008 of six counts of possessing the child pornography. In August 2007, officials reportedly found 22 images of known child pornography and six images of suspected child pornography on computer hard drives seized from Belford’s residence.

But the appeals court ruled last month that — based on a state Supreme Court decision in a different case — a defendant such as Belford can be convicted of only one count for each possession, not one count for each image or each minor.

The maximum prison sentence allowed under state law for one count of possessing the images is 10 years.

In imposing the initial 17-year term in March 2008, Schacht said an exceptionally long sentence was appropriate because of Belford’s previous criminal record, which includes two convictions for possessing child pornography when he was a juvenile.

Belford was given credit Tuesday for the time he’s already served. Schacht also placed him on three years of community custody, a form of probation, when he’s released.

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