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State Supreme Court tosses child porn convictions

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SANTA FE – New Mexico’s highest court on Monday overturned more than two dozen convictions in separate child pornography cases in a ruling that drew sharp criticism from Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a former prosecutor.

The court said the defendants can be charged with only one felony count of possessing child pornography despite having many pornographic images of children.

A Martinez spokesman, Enrique Knell, said the court’s ruling “will place children at risk.”

“This decision allows predators to victimize kids over and over again, for an extended period of time, without fear of additional jail time,” Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said in a statement.

The court, in separate cases from the Clovis area, said James Michael Olsson and William Ballard can each be charged with only one count of possession of child pornography.

Olsson pleaded guilty to six counts after initially being charged in 2005 with 60 counts and later having that increased to 152 counts. Authorities said he had photographs in three binders and images on a computer.

A jury convicted Ballard of 25 counts of child pornography possession in 2009, but the Court of Appeals later reduced the convictions to five counts. He had video files and digital photographs on a computer’s external hard drive, authorities said.

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