LOS ANGELES -- A jury of six men and six women began deciding the fate of former Infoseek executive Patrick Naughton Friday afternoon after both sides wrapped up their cases in his trial here in US District Court.
Naughton, 34, of Seattle faces up to 40 years in prison on charges he travelled across state lines with the intent to have sex with a minor, used the Internet to entice a minor into having sex, and possessed child pornography.
Before the jury retired, Naughton attorney Donald Marks told the panel that the government aggressively pursued and set up his client.
Naughton was nabbed on the Santa Monica Pier on September 16 after he set up a meeting there with "krisLA," an undercover FBI agent posing as a 13-year-old girl in a chat room.
During an intense presentation of closing arguments for the defense, Marks said federal agents doggedly pursued Naughton because he was such a high-profile catch. Before working at Infoseek, Naughton led Java development at Sun Microsystems, and was a well-known tech executive.
"They know they've got a prize," Marks told jurors. "They've got the biggest fish they could ever catch in their net." Naughton's core defense has been that he was only playing fantasy games and never really believed the person he planned to meet was underage because so many people fake their identity in chat rooms.
Marks said FBI agents refused Naughton's repeated requests for pictures and phone calls because they were afraid Naughton would back away from a meeting if he thought krisLA was really only 13.
Marks told jurors the government should have sent Naughton pictures of an underage girl. "If they wanted to see if my client would meet a 13-year-old girl, that's what they should have done," Marks said. "That's playing fair. That's what the FBI should do instead of playing this game."
Naughton also is pursuing an entrapment defense based on assertions that krisLA repeatedly induced him to meet. In order for such a defense to be successful, Naughton's attorneys must prove that he was not predisposed to the behavior that got him arrested. On Thursday, they presented a psychologist who said Naughton didn't show signs of pedophilia.
Marks acknowledged that Naughton wanted to know the identity of krisLA. "Let there be not doubt about it -- he wanted to see who this was," Marks said. "That's not a crime." But instead of heading for a meeting on the beach with krisLA -- who was really Amber Braaten, a female FBI decoy dressed to look like a young girl -- Marks said Naughton walked in the opposite direction.
He also reiterated claims that Naughton had never opened the images of child pornography found on his computer and that they were one of thousands of pictures he had inadvertently received through chat rooms.
During her closing arguments, prosecutor Patricia Donahue asked jurors to find Naughton guilty because he turned his chat room fantasies of fraternising with young girls into a reality when he showed up for a meeting with krisLA at the pier.
"If he had just stayed behind his keyboard and typed sex fantasies and not done anything else, we wouldn't be here," Donahue said. Instead, she said Naughton followed up on his virtual plans, renting a car at the Burbank airport, driving across town, meeting Braaten at the pier and asking her if she wanted to walk on the beach.
Donahue said Naughton repeatedly pressed for meetings during the six chat room flirtations between the pair, even telling krisLA he would drive from his Seattle home to meet her during a family vacation in Portland. "He started planning to meet kris in the very first chat session," Donahue said, adding that he repeatedly told krisLA he wasn't fantasising.
Donahue asked the jury to find Naughton guilty because of those actions, and because a computer log showed the pictures of naked children on his computer were accessed after they had been downloaded.
"He has amply demonstrated what he's interested in by what he said, what he did and the pictures that were on his computer," Donahue said.
The jury will resume deliberations on Monday.