On July 9, 2019 Jody R. Whittington, 52 of Stevensville, Maryland was sentenced to eighteen (18) years in the Division of Corrections for the distribution and possession of child pornography. Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches prosecuted the case.
The charges stem from December, 2018 when TFC Zachary Sarver of the Maryland State Police, Criminal Enforcement Division, began an investigation into the distribution of child pornography after he received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The cybertip was generated by Google, Inc. for a Gmail account that involved an image of child pornography being uploaded to a Google account. TFC Sarver viewed the image and confirmed that it was child pornography.
A search and seizure warrant was then authorized for the account and subscriber information, as well as the contents of the Google account. Through the email account records investigators were able to identify the owner of the email as Jody Whittington, a phone number, and 3 IP addresses. All of the IP addresses were investigated and revealed an address of 318 Stafford Road in Stevensville. The phone number belonged to Jody Whittington. MVA records listed Mr. Whittington’s residence being the Stafford Road address. A review of the email records revealed several communications and email conversations where Mr. Whittington traded images of child pornography with an unknown subject.
A search and seizure warrant was then executed by the Maryland STATE team on January 18, 2019 at the Stafford Road address. Two people were located inside the home when the team made entry: Mr. Whittington and his mother, Ms. Loretta Strittmatter. Investigators located multiple electronic devices in Mr. Whittington’s bedroom, of which he claimed ownership.
Corporal Joshua Brooks of the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit forensically examined several of the devices on scene, including a Samsung Galaxy S9 cell phone. Numerous images of child pornography were located on the phone.
The remaining items were seized and forensically examined by Special Agent Mark Joiner of the Department of Homeland Security at a later date. His examination also revealed numerous child pornography images on those devices.
TFC Sarver interviewed Mr. Whittington on scene in his home. After being advised of his Miranda warning, Mr. Whittington admitted to owning the electronic devices, and further admitted to trading child pornography through his email account. Mr. Whittington was then transported to the Maryland State Police Centreville Barracks where he was further interviewed by Sgt. Donisi. He was again advised of his Miranda rights and gave a further detailed confession.
Mr. Whittington was then charged with numerous counts of distribution and possession of child pornography. On May 14, 2019 he plead guilty to three counts of the distribution of child pornography and ten counts of possession of child pornography. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered and sentencing was deferred until July 9, 2019. Mr. Cuches argued that Mr. Whittington should be incarcerated for a lengthy period of time due to the extreme nature of the offense, the young ages of the victims, and the heinous nature of the conduct. He further asked the Court to imprison Mr. Whittington for a substantial period to send a message to the defendant in this case, and others, that this conduct will not be tolerated in this community and will be met with a strong response.
The Honorable Thomas G. Ross thereafter sentenced Mr. Whittington to forty five (45) years in prison, but suspended all of that sentence except for eighteen (18) years to be served in The Division of Correction. Judge Ross suspended the remaining twenty seven (27) years of incarceration and placed Whittington on five years of supervised probation. During the term of probation Mr. Whittington, in addition to the standard terms and conditions of probation, will not be allowed to have contact with any individuals under 16 years old and will not be allowed to use or possess a computer. Mr. Whittington will also be required to register as a Tier I sex offender. Judge Ross also fined him $32,500.
Mr. Cuches expressed his gratitude to the law enforcement officers involved in the investigation. He stated that the diligent efforts of TFC Sarver, Cpl. Brooks, Special Agent Joiner, and Sgt. Donisi lead to the successful prosecution of Mr. Whittington, and the protection of the citizens of Queen Anne’s County.