January 15th, 2021

Pleas in child porn cases expected in Jan.


By Delon Shurtz on December 17, 2020.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Two Lethbridge men arrested earlier this year following a child pornography sting are expected to plead to their charges when they return to court in the new year.
The matters for Brandon Bran Eguizabal and Bryan Alas Hernandez were in Lethbridge provincial court Wednesday but adjourned until January, ostensibly for guilty pleas and resolution of their charges.
Alas Hernandez, 19, is charged with single counts of accessing child pornography, possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography. His case returns to court Jan. 14.
Crown Prosecutor Tom Brannen told court he expected the accused to enter pleas during Wednesday’s hearing, and suggested if guilty pleas aren’t entered next month then a pre-trial conference should be scheduled in advance of setting a trial date. Brannen noted defence has had an agreed statement of facts and disclosure for several weeks.
Bran Eguizabal is also expected to resolve his charges of accessing child pornography, possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography. His matter returns to court Jan. 7.
The accused was expected to enter pleas Wednesday, as well, but the Crown pointed out an agreed statement of facts is being prepared for the next appearance.
An agreed statement of facts typically provides the judge with details of the offences, to which defence agrees and the accused is expected to plead guilty. The Crown and defence do not always agree on a sentence, although they often submit a joint recommendation for sentencing.
The two accused are among 18 suspects from Alberta who were arrested between May and June by ALERT’S Internet Child Exploitation unit (ICE), for a total of 65 offences related to online child sexual exploitation.
Most of the arrests came as the result of referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre, which works with internet and social media providers to track and investigate online instances of child sexual exploitation.
A third Lethbridge man, Yonatan Castro Linares, 26, was also charged in connection with the pornography sting. He pleaded guilty last month to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, followed by probation for one year. Charges of accessing child pornography and distributing child pornography were withdrawn.
Follow @DShurtzHerald on Twitter

Follow @DShurtzHerald on Twitter

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