Daniel Cooper plea hearing

Daniel Lee Cooper, 19, appeared before Judge Mark Wills in Mercer County Circuit Court Friday.

PRINCETON — A Glenwood man who pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of images showing minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct could face a sentence of supervision instead of prison if the court accepts a plea deal he signed Friday.

Daniel Lee Cooper, 19, appeared before Judge Mark Wills in Mercer County Circuit Court where he was advised of the rights he was waiving with the plea.

“He (Cooper) understands his constitutional rights,” Defense attorney Bill Huffman told Wills.

A criminal complaint filed in September of 2018 by Detective S.M. Severt, with the Princeton Police Department, shows Cooper was charged with distribution of child pornography.

Cooper was found in possession of multiple images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct “after an incident had occurred at the Princeton Senior High School,” Severt wrote in the complaint.

Severt stated a search warrant was executed for Cooper’s cellphone, after which it was forensically analyzed.

“The analysis documented that Cooper had stored a large quantity of images and showed a history of him distributing the images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct to adults and other minor children,” Severt wrote in the complaint.

During Friday’s hearing, Wills emphasized to Cooper the consequences of the plea.

“If I accept this plea, and you’re being supervised, if you violate you could be sent to prison for two years,” Wills told the defendant.

Wills also told Cooper if supervision is violated, “you will have a felony conviction.”

Cooper acknowledged understanding his rights.

After reiterating the charge, Wills asked Cooper, “Are you guilty or not guilty?”

“Guilty,” Cooper said.

Cooper, wearing a plaid shirt and khaki pants, showed no emotion as he signed the plea deal in open court.

Wills then deferred acceptance of the guilty plea until a pre-sentence evaluation is conducted on Cooper.

“I order Mr. Cooper be evaluated — a sexual offender evaluation,” Wills said.

During a hearing in May, Wills refused to accept the plea deal for Cooper citing his unfamiliarity with the case.

Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler told Wills in that hearing that he had spoken to the victims and their families, and they preferred a plea deal to avoid the publicity of a trial.

“I am not saying I won’t accept it (a plea deal),” Wills said in May. “I won’t accept it without familiarizing myself with the case.”

Will also said, “This is serious stuff … I’m not going to accept a plea. It’s too serious a situation.”

Testimony during the May hearing indicated there are six victims in the case.

— Contact Samantha Perry at sperry@bdtonline.com.

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