A Chickasaw, AL, woman was expected to plead guilty to child porn charges after she allegedly drugged two youngsters prior to a sexual encounter with an adult male. As a Birmingham criminal defense lawyer, I know the value of having a qualified legal professional by your side in serious criminal cases like this one. In this particular instance, the defendant reportedly has a history of mental illness, which may be a mitigating factor during sentencing.
According to news reports, 30-year-old Melissa B. Gray was charged by local authorities with drugging two children for sex and was, at the time of the report, expected to make a blind plea to a child porn charge in a Mobile, Alabama, court.
The Chickasaw resident supposedly drugged the two minor as a prelude to a planned sexual encounter with a man she met online. Her possible guilty plea to charges of child pornography was based on documents filed in court by her attorney at the time of the news article.
According to an affidavit filed earlier this year by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Jonathan Daniel Bervig from Milton, FL, met Gray over the Internet and began swapping child pornography with her. The affidavit claims that Bervig told investigators in January that he arranged to drive to Gray's house to have sex with a young relative of hers and another child, both of whom would be drugged so as not to resist. However, Bervig said that when he arrived the children were still awake and alert so he left.
According to reports, an undercover investigator, who posed as Bervig, later sent instant messages to Gray, who tried again to set up a sexual liaison. Law enforcement officers went to Gray's home on January 6 and found a prescription for Percocet, a painkiller that can cause drowsiness and confusion. At that time, officers tried unsuccessfully to awaken a seven-year-old boy at the home before taking him to a hospital.
Local police and other law enforcement officials found a computer at Grey’s home with dozens of images of child pornography, as well as incest stories involving young boys, according to investigators.
At the time of the news article, Gray was expected to enter a "blind plea" to possession and distribution of child pornography charges, meaning that she would get no promise of a lenient sentencing recommendation from federal prosecutors in Mobile. The defendant, a former schoolteacher, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. According to reports, the worst-case scenario for her would be just over 12 years, based on advisory sentencing guidelines. U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose was slated to make the final decision.
Drugging children for sex suspect to make blind plea to child porn charge, AL.com, September 17, 2009