NEW BERN, N.C. – Kellie Michelle Smith, 43, of Raleigh, was sentenced today to 68 months in prison for possession of child pornography. Smith pled guilty to a single-count Criminal Information on June 22, 2020.
According to court records and statements made during hearings, in October 2018, the Cary Police Department was conducting an investigation of online peer-to-peer child pornography distribution. They identified an IP address from which they were able to download a large amount of child pornography and tracked that IP address to the Raleigh residence of Stephan Grimes.
Homeland Security, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, and US Marshals executed a search warrant on February 20, 2019. Grimes was interviewed and admitted to downloading child pornography. An on-site forensic preview of a computer also revealed multiple explicit images of a young girl. Grimes identified the girl and initially claimed that she was 18 years old. He stated that the co-defendant Kellie Smith, his girlfriend to whom he had previously been married, was also present when the photos images were produced. Agents noted wall mounted surveillance cameras in the living room and bedroom that appeared to have been used to produce the images. Agents seized a computer, hard drives, and a USB drive.
Law enforcement identified and interviewed the young girl from the images. She stated that she had met Grimes when she was 16. Grimes later made sexual advances, which eventually resulted in the illegal activity.
A full forensic examination recovered 5 videos and over 400 images of child sexual abuse material, the great majority depicting the victim when she was 17 years old. Two long videos were taken in Grimes’ and Smith’s home using the dual wall-mounted cameras, with a simultaneous view in split screen.
Evidence demonstrated that Smith was involved in some sexual encounters including the minor victim, of which photos were taken.
Co-defendant Stephan Grimes pled guilty on September 14, 2021, to one count of manufacture of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced during the court’s January 11, 2022, term of court.
G. Norman Acker, III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.