April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Man takes child porn plea

Police found pictures while investigating wife’s alleged poisoning of children

ELYRIA — Police looking for evidence while building a case against Theresa Fennell, who is accused of poisoning her children last year, found child pornography on a computer belonging to her husband, Jeffrey Fennell.
On Thursday, the 37-year-old Lorain man admitted it was his, pleading guilty to illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material, pandering obscenity involving a minor and two counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.
His attorney, James Sayre, said his client made the right call.
“He was given a presumption of probation in exchange for his plea and decided not to take his chances (at trial),” he said.
Fennell’s 35-year-old wife still faces charges of felonious assault, endangering children and corrupting another with drugs for allegedly feeding her children food laced with prescription drugs last September.
Police have said she planned to drive them off the Mill Hollow cliff in Vermilion so they could be in a “better place.” Instead, she took the children, then ages 4, 9 and 13, to Amherst Hospital, where they were treated. The children have recovered, and police have said they don’t believe Theresa Fennell intended to kill them.
Sayre said police found about 400 images of pornography depicting prepubescent children on the computer as they were looking for evidence about the poisoning.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said prosecutors agreed not to oppose probation at sentencing in part because Fennell agreed to stop fighting the validity of the search that turned up the images. Had Fennell won his argument before county Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi, prosecutors would have been left with no evidence with which to prosecute him.
In the end, Will said, prosecutors wanted to make sure Fennell was held accountable.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chronicelt.com.