ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied the appeal of a former Live Oak police sergeant convicted on child pornography charges.
Kyle Kirby, who was a sergeant with the Live Oak Police Department when he was arrested in 2015, appealed his sentence of 120 years following his December 2017 conviction.
The court upheld the sentence from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in a decision issued Tuesday, denying Kirby’s argument that the sentence was substantively unreasonable and the correct sentence should have been 470 months instead of 1440 months.
After being found guilty on five counts of producing, attempting to produce, possessing and accessing child pornography, Kirby’s total offense level was calculated as 43 at his March 2018 sentencing, a level that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines recommends a life sentence, according to court documents.
However, none of the crimes for which Kirby was convicted allow for a life sentence, so the lower court determined that the Guidelines called for consecutive terms of the maximum sentence for each conviction, the court documents state.
The appeals court agreed with that determination after Kirby argued that a life sentence is 470 months, based on the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s definition for statistical purposes.
“The district court adopted a straightforward understanding of a life sentence — that is, indefinite in duration,” Circuit Judge William Pryor wrote in the appeals court’s opinion, adding the lower court was correct in its interpretation. “The meaning of life imprisonment is clear: ‘Confinement of a person in prison for the remaining years of his or her natural life.’”
The appeals court also dismissed the contention that the sentence was unreasonable, noting the district court thoroughly discussed Kirby’s conduct, participation in creating “child pornography, his breach of public trust as a police officer, and his total failure to take responsibility for his actions.”
Kirby was arrested on October 28, 2015, after FBI investigators found 87 images depicting child pornography on his patrol car laptop. Agents took him to a detention facility in Jacksonville.
According to court documents, he tried to get another LOPD officer to delete evidence. The other officer, however, did not comply with the request.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Kirby had used the patrol car computer to download, access, and possess child pornography from as early as Dec. 24, 2014.
According to court documents, a search of an LOPD desktop computer used by Kirby revealed images depicting nude and partially undressed children in at least three different bathrooms.
Kirby had used one or more concealed cameras to surreptitiously film the unsuspecting minors. He then transferred these images to the LOPD desktop computer, and later unsuccessfully attempted to delete them.
Agents were able to locate folders on the computer named for several of his victims.
“I have been in law enforcement for 30 years, and this has been the most difficult situation I have faced,” former Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams said after the trial. “A trusted friend, officer and protector of the public betrayed all facets of the job he swore to do. I realize that mistakes happen, but this was no mistake, it was a choice, a choice that has impacted not only his agency, but his trusted friends, family, and community to include all brothers and sisters of the badge. I am appreciative of the F.B.I, the U.S Attorney’s Office and all others involved.
“Justice did prevail.”