James Davis Beck Jr.

James Davis Beck Jr.

ELKTON — An Elkton man received a 60-day jail term on Monday, after pleading guilty in a child pornography case in which investigators caught him with an electronic image of a nude girl, believed to be seven or eight years old, performing a sex act on herself.

Retired Cecil County Circuit Court Judge V. Michael Whelan imposed a three-year sentence on the defendant, James Davis Beck Jr., 53, and then suspended all but 60 days of the penalty. The judge imposed the sentence moments after Beck pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Whelan gave Beck credit for the time that he already had served — 29 days — in the Cecil County Detention Center after his arrest in March. Beck now must serve the 31-day balance of that jail term.

As part of the sentence, the judge ordered Beck to serve two years of supervised probation after his jail release. In addition, Whelan ordered Beck to register as a convicted sex offender for the next 15 years, allowing police to periodically monitor him in person and the public to keep tabs on him through the Cecil County Sex Offender Registry website.

Beck declined to address the judge before sentencing.

The sentence imposed by Whelan nearly matched a recommendation made by Assistant State’s Attorney Zachary M. Payne, who, in addition to seeking a three-year sentence with all but 60 days suspended, requested five years of supervised probation for Beck, three years fewer than the judge imposed.

Payne reported that state sentencing guidelines, which are based on a defendant’s criminal record and other factors, set a penalty range of probation to six months of active incarceration for Beck.

Beck’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Denise Winston, told the judge that her client has an otherwise clean criminal record and that he was cooperative with police investigators in this criminal case.

After acknowledging that Beck possessed the child pornography image at the core of this criminal case, Winston stressed, “There is no evidence that he created the image.”

Winston noted that, while free on an unsecured $10,000 bond for almost the past four months, Beck wore a court-mandated electronic anklet and that no issues arose during that period of monitoring. Winston reported that Beck lives with his mother and has a “quiet life.”

The defense lawyer recommended a suspended three-year sentence and 18 months of supervised probation for Beck.

Elkton Police Department investigators arrested Beck earlier this year after the child pornography image was discovered and they later linked it to his computer account and his address.

The EPD investigation, which merged into a probe that had been started earlier by the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit (CCU), led to detectives raiding Beck’s residence on Midland Drive at approximately 10:30 a.m. March 4, when investigators arrested Beck, police reported.

Payne told the judge on Monday that, during a police interview after his arrest, Beck admitted to possessing the electronic image of the nude girl and also acknowledged that he was aware that such a possession is a crime.

As part of Monday’s plea agreement, the state dropped several related child pornography charges against Beck.

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