Child porn trial put on hold while defendant sees doctor

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A federal criminal trial in which the defendant is accused of receipt, possession and distribution of child pornography, set to start today, was put on hold indefinitely by a judge concerned with reports of "intermittent, uncontrollable bleeding from the eyes."

David Cunningham, 41, of the Washington County town of Eighty Four, was transferred from a federal facility to the Allegheny County Jail on April 11, according to a motion filed Monday by his attorney, Melvin Vatz.

"Since his arrival at the Allegheny County Jail, Defendant advises Counsel that he has not been examined by a physician, despite his repeated requests to do so," Mr. Vatz wrote. Mr. Cunningham is having gastro-intestinal distress, plus the bleeding "through his eyes that is not being controlled by any medications," Mr. Vatz wrote.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon today demanded that Allegheny County Jail chief medical officer Dr. Michael Patterson thoroughly review Mr. Cunningham's medical records and examine him, and then provide a report on "whether his condition can be controlled during trial." She did not set a deadline for the report.

Mr. Cunningham is accused of using a peer-to-peer network-sharing service to download sexually explicit images of children. He has claimed that he didn't view the images on the computer that was used by other members of his family.

He was convicted of the charges in 2010 and sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison. However, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial because U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab allowed the prosecution to show the jury "highly inflammatory" videos.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.


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