United States v. Owens, No. 20-3189 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Owens was charged with the distribution and possession of child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(2)l after a government investigator used a confidential software program, Torrential Downpour Receptor (TDR), to download a video file containing child pornography from a folder shared via the BitTorrent network at an IP address later associated with Owens. A forensic search of Owens’s computer when he was arrested failed to locate the file on his computer. Owens unsuccessfully moved, under FRCP 16, to compel the production of information relating to the government’s download of the file.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion. Owens suffered no prejudice from the denial. The government presented evidence that undermined Owens’s proffered “false positive” theory, which the district court was entitled to credit. The court did not clearly err when it accepted testimony that the torrent relating to the target file had been opened in Owens’s BitComet application while the investigation was occurring, and evidence that a file with the same filename as the illicit video was present in Owens’s “most recently used” folder. This testimony was based on forensic analysis of Owens’s computer, which the government produced to the defense. Owens cannot demonstrate that access to TDR would “substantially alter the quantum of proof in his favor.