Support our mission

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — Senior Airman Shawn E. Messick installed a spy program on his home computer so he could allegedly snoop on his wife. But the software she didn’t know about would come back to haunt him, not her.

The program allowed Air Force investigators to take a peek at the Spangdahlem-based airman’s computer activities, helping them find dozens of photos and videos of child pornography.

An Air Force judge on Wednesday found Messick guilty of wrongfully and knowingly possessing child pornography. The judge, Col. Dawn Eflein, sentenced Messick to two years in prison, reduction to the lowest rank, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad-conduct discharge.

“The spyware came back to bite the accused,” Maj. Robert Luttrell, the prosecuting attorney, said during the trial’s closing arguments.

Messick’s wife also had a hand in her husband’s conviction. She told special agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in 2005 that her husband possessed child pornography. She testified during his trial about how the images were found accidentally.

Her tip sparked an investigation and eventual seizure of Messick’s home computer.

Investigators discovered dozens of digital photographs and more than 20 videos of suspected child pornography on Messick’s two hard drives, three compact disks and five floppy disks, Luttrell said. The prosecution said the 26-year-old compiled the small digital library between 1998 and 2005.

During the sentencing phase of the court-martial, prosecuting attorney Capt. Michael Felsen said some of the videos and photographs included elementary school-age children engaged in sexual acts with adults.

Messick pleaded not guilty to the charges. His defense lawyer, Capt. Michael Carson, argued there wasn’t enough physical evidence to convict his client. Messick, who has a son, faced a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, but the prosecution argued for five years.

After he was found guilty, Messick asked the judge for mercy and asked her to consider that he not receive a bad-conduct discharge.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up