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WEST UNION, Iowa --- Ricky Putman will spend the rest of his life in prison after jurors Monday convicted him of first-degree sexual abuse causing serious injury.

Putman, 43, of Arlington, was accused of performing a sex act on a 2-year-old girl in May 2010.

The conviction for Class A felony results in a mandatory life term. Sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 29.

Putman had little reaction to the verdict, which came less than an hour after the jury began deliberations.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Denise Timmins said during closing arguments that Putman had been sexually aggressive with the toddler's mother prior to spending the night at their home.

"He was ramped up that evening," Timmins said. "He didn't get what he wanted from (the victim's mother), so he ended up taking it from (the girl)."

Her father testified that he saw blood on Putman's hand and shirt in the morning. A deputy who later interviewed Putman at his home said he appeared to have showered and done laundry.

Putman denied touching the victim and said he had worn different clothing than that identified by witnesses.

Putman also claimed he had slept downstairs, but the victim's father testified Putman stayed upstairs in a bedroom near the girl's crib.

"His statements are indicative of his guilt," Timmins said.

Timmins noted a doctor from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City testified fresh bruising on the girl's face and head was consistent with being restrained, and damage to her vaginal area could be explained by forcible penetration.

"This was not an accident," Timmins said. "The defendant committed what most people would consider an unthinkable act, an unimaginable act."

Defense attorney Aaron Hawbaker argued the family is protecting the girl's father, who did not initially alert his wife to suspicions of abuse.

"There's not a single person in this room who doesn't want justice for (the victim), but it's not justice for (the victim) to convict the wrong person," Hawbaker said. "When it comes to sexual abuse, it's most often amongst families."

Hawbaker had repeatedly objected to evidence suggesting Putman maintained a collection of graphic child pornography on computer equipment. During closing arguments, he said nothing proves the files were accessed or opened by Putman.

"There is no clear evidence they were even downloaded," Hawbaker said. "They may have been pushed by a computer virus or something of the like."

None of 26 items tested for DNA evidence, including a bloody crib blanket, linked Putman to the crime, Hawbaker added.

In presenting his defense earlier Monday, Hawbaker called one witness, Dr. Terry Melton.

Melton is president and laboratory director at Mitotyping Technologies in State College, Pa. She said a hair found in the victim's diaper did not belong to Putman. Tests did not exclude the victim or her parents.

The sample contained DNA found in about 7 percent of Europeans, Melton added.

Timmins countered DNA evidence "is one piece of the big picture."

"If (the victim's father) is guilty of anything, it is not properly taking care of that child that night," Timmins added. "It was not a smart move to allow a person you don't know very well to sleep alone in the upstairs with your baby girl."



WEST UNION, Iowa --- Defense attorney Aaron Hawbaker on Friday repeated an earlier objection to what is arguably the most damning evidence against his client, Ricky Putman.

Putman, 43, is on trial for first-degree sexual assault causing injury. His alleged victim was a 2-year-old girl who required medical treatment.

Judge John Bauercamper months ago twice ruled jurors would be allowed to hear about computer equipment suggesting Putman maintained a collection of graphic child pornography. The Iowa Supreme Court in July declined to intervene.

Hawbaker on Friday tried again.

"I ask the court one last time to reconsider," he said.

"There's no need for the state to put on this additional evidence," he added, describing the material as "more inflammatory rather than informative."

Prosecutor Denise Timmins argued there was an essential purpose.

"The state concedes the state does have a weaker case with respect to the identity of the perpetrator," she said.

But the child pornography, Timmins said, suggested a link between Putman and the alleged crime.

"The court sees no reason at this date to change its ruling," Judge Bauercamper concluded.

Timmins was allowed to put one of Putman's friends and then a forensic computer examiner on the stand. Both men testified they discovered pornography on Putman's computer.

Rodney Peterman described his relationship previously with Putman as very close.

"We were like brothers almost," Peterman testified.

So after Putman's arrest, Peterman said he agreed to feed his friend's cat.

Peterman, a welder by profession, told jurors he had a side business at the time making, repairing and setting up computers. He had earlier sold one to Putman.

After letting himself into Putman's home in Arlington to check on the cat, Peterman investigated the computer.

"I knew what he was arrested for ... so I decided to sit down and see," Peterman said.

Ultimately, Peterman turned the computer and three storage devices over to law enforcement officials investigating the toddler's abuse.

Special Agent Ward Crawley of the Division of Criminal Investigation tapped into the equipment and confirmed images and videos were indeed stored on the computer, external hard drive, thumb drive and a CD.

"Did any of the titles stand out to you?" Timmins asked Crawley.

He said two in particular seemed relevant: "2yo getting raped" and "2yo getting raped during diaper change."

"Did the content of the videos match the titles?" Timmins asked.

"Yes, they did," Crawley testified.

On cross examination, Hawbaker asked Crawley if his examination could determine who loaded or saved the pornography or when.

"It's a machine. It has to be run by somebody. Isn't that true?" Hawbaker asked.

"Yes," Crawley said.

The agent also conceded more than one person might use a specific individual's computer. He later noted, however, that the equipment he examined also contained images of Putman and a relative, suggesting Putman at least had access to the computer.

Timmins rested the prosecution's case after Crawley's testimony.

The trial is scheduled to continue Monday, and Hawbaker said he would offer one witness, Dr. Terry Melton. Hawbaker declined comment on what direction Melton might take the case.

First-degree sexual abuse causing injury is a Class A felony. If convicted, Putman faces life in prison with no chance of parole.

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