Monday morning in Eighth Judicial District Court, Dathan Artemus Durant, 58, was sentenced to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for Possession of Child Pornography, a Felony 2. Durant was charged in June, 2014. He, along with another Cumby man, was arrested in a child pornography sting operation. The two cases were not related. Durant’s case was developed through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Monday morning, Assistant District Attorney Clay Harrison called Hopkins County Investigator Corley Weatherford as his only witness. Weatherford is skilled in forensic investigation and currently works with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Investigator Weatherford, who recently attended the U.S. Secret Service computer forensics school, has been working with state and federal prosecutors on a number of child exploitation cases. Defense Attorney Martin Braddy did not call any witnesses.
Durant pled guilty to the charge and went before the Judge for sentencing. The range of punishment was 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Judge Northcutt denied the Defendant’s request for probation and sentenced him to the maximum of 10 years in prison with no fine. He will be eligible for parole in two and a half years.
District Attorney Will Ramsey stated, “People of Hopkins County should feel proud to have a Sheriff’s Office committed to seeking justice for those who prey on children. Investigator Corley Weatherford is one of the best in Northeast Texas at pursuing these cases. Assistant District Attorney Clay Harrison meticulously prepares for trial and is an outstanding advocate in the courtroom. This ceaseless effort protects our community and ensures that Hopkins County remains a wonderful place to raise a family.”
In June of 2014, Hopkins County Investigator Corley Weatherford received an online tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The tip revealed that a group of child pornography photos and videos named the “Vicky” series by federal law enforcement had been downloaded to the Defendant’s home computer. After obtaining a search warrant, Hopkins County investigators searched Durant’s home and seized two computers. Forensic experts were able to retrieve thousands of images of child erotica from the Defendant’s hardware, as well as illicit search terms he had entered while looking for images and internet history showing underage websites. The Defendant was using peer-to-peer online file sharing programs to download, access, and view images and videos of child pornography.