An Escambia County man has been sentenced to three consecutive life sentences — followed by 495 years in prison — after a jury found him guilty of repeatedly raping a 3-year-old boy and sharing images of the abuse.
Charles Hoyt McConnell III, 22, faced 36 counts of child sex-related charges, including capital sexual battery and obscene material possession.
A jury on Tuesday found him guilty on all counts, and Circuit Judge John Miller handed down the sentence.
McConnell filmed and photographed the sexual abuse of a 3-year-old in his care for about two months around December 2016 before his wife found the child pornography on his phone in January and went to police.
McConnell's wife testified during the one-day trial Tuesday, crying as she described to the jury how she recognized the boy and her husband in the photos and video screenshots.
There were no faces in any of the images, but she said she recognized certain body parts, as well as items belonging to the boy, like a nightlight and pajamas.
She said she found the images at about 2 a.m. Jan. 9 when McConnell's phone was lighting up with notifications. She thought it might be the boss at his new restaurant job trying to get help closing the shop. When she checked the phone, she found communication about the images.
McConnell's wife said she picked up the boy and left in the middle of the night to go to her mother's house and call police. McConnell was arrested that same morning.
Two other men — Danny Ray Murphy and Jonah Authement — are serving prison sentences for communicating with McConnell via a social media application about the photos and videos of the boy.
In an interview with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office that was played during the trial, McConnell immediately admitted to having raped the child multiple times.
He offhandedly answered investigators' questions about how and why he abused the child, and moments after describing some of the acts, he asked investigators unrelated questions such as when he could use the bathroom or get access to personal items.
When asked why he assaulted the boy, McConnell referenced his own "personal experiences" in the past, but didn't elaborate on that statement. He said it was "like a switch," and told investigators that he would go back and forth between thinking about sexually abusing the child and then not thinking about that for an extended period of time.
During the period when McConnell was assaulting the boy, he had also downloaded child porn images and videos of other children and communicated about them through the social media app Kik.
He said he didn't know those other children, and the 3-year-old was the only child he had ever sexually abused.
Murphy is serving a 40-year federal prison sentence, and Authement was sentenced to eight years in state prison last week.
McConnell was sentenced immediately after the jury convicted him because a capital felony carries a mandatory life sentence.
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