CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Sissonville man avoided a possible prison sentence after viewing child pornography that his attorney said "just popped up" on his home computer.
But Chester Wilkinson, 58, was placed on two years of probation with counseling and another five years of additional court supervision. He will have to register for life as a sexual offender and give up his computers and any device that could connect to the Internet.
Prosecutors argued strongly for a penitentiary sentence, but Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Paul Zakaib decided it wasn't appropriate.
His attorney, John Mitchell, described Wilkinson as a "pillar of society who lives a good, Christian life" and never previously faced allegations of inappropriate behavior with children or anyone.
"He is always there to help anybody," Mitchell said. "He has a master's degree, he's a veteran, he raised his daughter by himself. Simply by pushing a few buttons on his computer, he now finds himself in this situation.
"A man with a computer sitting up a holler in his own home found a couple sites," the attorney said. "It's a 21st century phenomenon that you can sit in your living room and these sites are that easy to find.
"There are no caveats or red flags," Mitchell said. "He's a felon now for what he opened up on his computer in his own home."
Authorities were notified when Wilkinson took his computer to a shop for repair, and the images were discovered.
"I did it," Wilkinson told the judge. "I'm sorry."