PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida man was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus an additional 495 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of repeatedly raping a 3-year-old boy and sharing images of the abuse.
Charles Hoyt McConnell III, 22, of Pensacola faced 36 counts of child sex-related charges, including capital sexual battery and obscene material possession.
A jury Tuesday found him guilty on all counts and Judge John Miller of First Judicial Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over four counties in the Panhandle, handed down the sentence. One life sentence in Florida allows a felon to be eligible for parole after a mandatory 25 years in prison; unless this sentence is overturned on appeal, McConnell won't ever be allowed out of prison.
For about two months around December 2016, McConnell filmed and photographed the sexual abuse of the 3-year-old in his care. His wife found the child pornography on his phone in January and went to police.
McConnell's wife, whose name was not released, testified during the one-day trial Tuesday, crying as she described how she recognized the boy and her husband in the photos and video screenshots.
No faces were in any of the images, but she said she recognized certain body parts as well as items belonging to the boy, such as a nightlight and pajamas.
She said she found the images at about 2 a.m. CT Jan. 9 when her husband's phone was lighting up with notifications. She thought it might be the boss at his new restaurant job trying to get help closing the shop.
When she checked the phone, she found communication about the images.
McConnell's wife said she picked up the boy and left in the middle of the night to go to her mother's house and call police. McConnell was arrested that same morning.
Two other men — Danny Ray Murphy and Jonah Authement — are serving prison sentences for communicating with McConnell via a social media application about the photos and videos of the boy.
In an interview with Escambia County Sheriff's deputies played during the trial, McConnell immediately admitted to having raped the child multiple times.
When asked why he assaulted the boy, McConnell referenced his own past "personal experiences" but didn't elaborate. He said it was "like a switch" and told investigators that he would go back and forth between thinking about sexually abusing the child and then not thinking about that for an extended time.
During the period McConnell was assaulting the boy, he had also downloaded child pornography images and videos of other children and communicated about them through the social media app Kik. He said the 3-year-old was the only child he ever had sexually assaulted.
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