CAPE GIRARDEAU -- A Charleston man was found guilty by a jury on seven drug-related and child pornography felony counts following a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton.
Tron Kent, 27, of Charleston was found guilty on Thursday of one count of possessing over 50 grams of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, two counts of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, one count of possession of child pornography and one count of production of child pornography.
Kent now faces a mandatory punishment of life imprisonment for the crack cocaine charge, a five-year consecutive sentence for possession a firearm and a 25-year sentence consecutive to both these sentences for another possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Kent also faces sentences of a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine to each count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and the count of possession of child pornography. The punishment for the production of child pornography is a mandatory sentence of 15 years with a maximum of 30 years. Sentencing is set for Aug. 13.
Evidence at the trial revealed Kent was stopped by two Sikeston police officers on Jan. 20, 2004, while he was walking on Westgate Street. The officers had received a report of a man fitting Kent's description who was walking on Westgate Street who had stolen a handgun. The officers patted Kent down and discovered he was carrying a .380 caliber pistol in his coat pocket. The pistol was fully loaded with a round in the chamber. The pistol was also found to have its safety broken off so that it was always in the "fire position." They also found 10 baggies of crack cocaine in another pocket. Kent admitted he was trying to sell the crack cocaine to others. At this time, Kent was a convicted felon in Mississippi County of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. He was prosecuted in Scott County Circuit Court for the crack cocaine possession and in U.S. Attorney's office for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
On May 8, 2006, Kent's cell phone was secured as his property after he was arrested on an outstanding state arrest warrant by Charleston Police Department. Officers noted the vehicle Kent was driving was not registered to him and went to the home of the vehicle owner. They discovered Kent had been staying at a bedroom in the house and the home was searched. During the search officers found and seized about 70 grams of crack cocaine, $540 in cash and a fully-loaded .22 caliber revolver.
In an interview with police, Kent said he'd never been in that bedroom. The officers went back and seized items from that room for DNA testing. A Missouri State Highway Patrol DNA chemist testified Kent's DNA was consistent with the DNA found on items from the bedroom and on one of the baggies that held the crack cocaine. The cell phone contained sexually explicit photos of a minor child and Kent.
The federal grand jury sitting in Cape Girardeau deliberated the evidence for two and a half hours before returning with a guilty verdict on all seven felony counts.