LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — A convicted sex offender could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Robert Triplett, 59, was sentenced to 40 more years in prison today after a Lowndes County Circuit Court judge found him guilty of possession of child pornography. Judge Lee Coleman ordered the 40 years to run consecutive to a 10-year attempted aggravated assault sentence Triplett already is serving from Jackson County, Miss., and a 10-year federal child porn conviction.
Today’s verdict came after a one-day bench trial without a jury. The local trial was required to preserve Triplett’s appeal rights; under Mississippi law, a felon can’t appeal their conviction on a search question if they pleaded guilty.
Triplett’s non-adjudicated probation on the assault charge was revoked in April 2010 after his arrest on the child porn charges in Lowndes County. He pleaded guilty to the federal charges in April 2011.
Triplett’s attorney Rob Laher is appealing the porn convictions based on what Triplett claims is an illegal search. He was charged in October 2009 after Lowndes County detectives found hundreds of pornographic images of children on his computers while searching for evidence in the disappearance of Triplett’s step daughter, Kaila Morris.
Morris has not been found since Triplett reported her missing on Sept. 17, 2009.
While testifying today, Triplett confessed to at one time having an extensive porn collection but said he never had child porn. He suggested his son or his son’s friends downloaded the pictures or the result of a computer virus.
But during a sometimes emotional conversation with his son that was taped shortly after Triplett’s arrest in October 2009, Triplett acknowledges he had pornography on his computer and tried to erase it as the investigation into Morris’ disappearance spread.
At one point during that conversation, he called some of the pictures “disgusting,” and acknowledges he’s “messed up the rest of my life.”
On four different occasions, he denied harming Morris.
Tuesday afternoon, Triplett took the stand and admitted he once owned “an extensive” collection of pornographic pictures on his computer but said all the pictures he knowingly downloaded were of women who were of legal age. He claimed he had never seen some of the hundreds of pictures investigators confirmed were of underage girls and suggested they could have been downloaded by his son or his son’s friends or by a virus that twice attacked his computer and constantly logged into the Internet.
Forensics expert Matt Manley testified that was unlikely.