More child porn charges filed

Prosecutors filed dozens of additional felony charges Wednesday against an Altoona woman already accused of possession of child pornography.

As Helen McKinley, 38, of 2720 Broad Ave., Apt. 1, faced a preliminary hearing Wednesday, prosecutors increased the number of child pornography charges from 10 to 81 – still a fraction of the 252 images police allegedly found on her computer.

McKinley’s defense attorney, Dave Beyer, accused the Blair County District Attorney’s Office of using the new charges as punishment for her refusal to waive the hearing.

“This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s a shame the justice system works this way,” Beyer said afterward. “If you exercise your constitutional right to a preliminary hearing, you’re going to get [in trouble].”

Magisterial District Judge Todd F. Kelly sent 62 charges on to the Court of Common Pleas after reviewing the 81 explicit photos McKinley is accused of possessing. Kelly said 19 of the 81 were too blurry or the participants’ ages too unclear to count for child pornography charges.

Altoona police arrested McKinley on Friday, nearly two months after her roommate approached officers to report the alleged pornography. Police discovered the images on her computer after she admitted to possessing them, according to an affidavit.

Kelly reduced McKinley’s bail Wednesday from $50,000 cash to a $5,000 up-front payment. McKinley, who lives on Social Security, was unable to cover the larger sum, she said.

She’ll be barred from using computers if released, Kelly ordered. McKinley accepted the condition, noting that she rarely uses her computer anyway.

“I haven’t even bothered,” she said. “It’s not that important to me.”

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.