Sentencing of convicted child pornographer starts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sentencing of convicted child pornographer starts

Albany -- A former Lee County High School teacher convicted of child pornography will soon find out how long he'll spend in prison. His sentencing hearing got underway Tuesday, but his lawyers are already planning to ask for a new trial.

38 year old Michael O'Keefe in November  was found guilty of four counts of possessing and distributing child pornography. He has spent the last four months in the Dougherty County jail, waiting for this sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors are asking he serve 35 years in prison, because of his serious crimes against children, while being in a position of trust as a teacher.

The minimum sentence by federal law is ten years. Pete Donaldson said "In a best case scenario Michael O'Keefe is going to spend a year in a federal prison, waiting to find out if he is going to get a new trial."

 In Tuesday's hearing Prosecutors charge O'Keefe and one of his expert witnesses lied during his trial, and asked he receive a longer sentence for obstruction of justice.

 Defense attorney's argued the prosecution inflated the number of child porn pictures that O'Keefe had on his computers at home and at school. Donaldson said "I understand when you get involved in a case of this nature, you start off with everyone looking at you with an eye of oh sure, that is what he did. This evidence is evidence uncovered by the government, and verified by our experts. "

Wearing a red jail suit, O'Keefe laughed with his wife during breaks.

Judge Louis Sands will decide how many years he will spend in federal prison. But O'Keefe's attorneys are already working on his appeal.

Arguments in the sentencing hearing went on late in the afternoon. They are to return Wednesday morning. Judge Sands will not have to announce his sentence decision immediately.

posted by jimw@walb.com