United States v. Wehrle, No. 19-2853 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Officer Wimmersberg detected an IP address requesting child pornography using a peer‐to‐peer file‐sharing network, Freenet. As a member of an FBI Task Force, she was certified to investigate on Freenet and had previously conducted more than 40 similar investigations. Wimmersberg determined that the IP address belonged to Wehrle. Wimmersberg and others executed a search warrant on his residence and found a photo album in Wehrle’s bedroom, The album contained a photograph depicting A.E. lying on a blanket with his penis exposed. The background matched Wehrle’s living room. Officers seized electronic devices and discovered over one million images and videos of child pornography, including additional pornographic images of A.E. Wehrle acknowledged he had downloaded child pornography using Freenet. Wehrle attempted to disqualify Wimmersberg as an expert witness, but the court found her to be "credible" and that her credentials and qualifications did not suggest that the evidence was not properly obtained or any problem with the investigation.
The district court found Wehrle guilty and sentenced him to a below‐guidelines term of 40 years’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to qualify Wimmersberg as an expert witness. The admission of trade inscriptions found on the seized devices did not violate the rule against hearsay and the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause; 18 U.S.C. 2251(a), which criminalizes the production of child pornography, does not violate the Commerce Clause. Wehrle’s sentence was not substantively unreasonable.