Gavel

PRINCETON — A trial for a Mercer County man who was arrested and charged in September 2020 with distribution of child pornography ended with a mistrial Wednesday when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The arrest was the result of an investigation conducted by Mercer County Sheriff’s Department Detective-Sergeant S. A. Sommers into the distribution of child pornography that began when the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a CyberTip from Facebook indicating a user was distributing child pornography.

The investigation showed that Clifford Mitchem, 67, of Princeton had sent a video of child pornography through Facebook Messenger to another user, Sommers said after the arrest in September 2020.

Sommers reminded the public then that criminal complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

After deliberating Wednesday for more than two hours, the jurors informed Special Circuit Court Judge Ed Kornish of McDowell County that they could not reach a verdict.

Kornish asked the jury’s foreperson if the jurors could reach a verdict if they were given more time for deliberations. The foreperson replied that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Prosecuting Attorney Brian Cochran said later that a special judge was appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia after Mercer County’s circuit court judges recused themselves from the case.

“The defendant is a retired police officer,” Coburn said, adding that Mitchem had worked with courthouse security after retiring from the Princeton Police Department.

Cochran represented the state with Assistant Prosector Adam Wolfe. Mitchem was represented by attorney Joseph Harvey.

Mitchem remains free on bond.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline. com

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