Archived Story

Teen pleads guilty in sex video case

Published 12:17pm Friday, May 27, 2011

One of five defendants in a sex video case has pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the 3rd degree and possession of child pornography.
Leon Murphy, 18, of Niles entered into a plea agreement Friday during a pre-exam conference in Berrien County Court. He is the only defendant to enter a plea in the case.
Murphy was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree; one count of extortion; and two counts of possession of child sexually abusive material. As part of the plea agreement, the other charges were dropped. Murphy will also not be charged in a second investigation involving another female victim, who will be allowed to speak at his sentencing.
Murphy admitted to Judge Scott Schofield Friday that on or about March 18 in Niles, he engaged in sexual intercourse and used force of coercion with a 17-year-old female by threatening to post a video on Facebook of her and one on the defendants, Martise Washington, having sex. At that same time, Murphy also knowingly possessed on his cell phone photos of a nude 15-year-old female.
Criminal sexual conduct in the 3rd degree carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; possession of child pornography carries a four-year maximum sentence.
Murphy will be sentenced July 5. He will also have to register as a sex offender.
Murphy, Parnell Martin, Washington and Trey Nichols, all 18, and Martell Miller, 17, face a number of criminal charges stemming from a six-week police investigation. All defendants are in custody at the Berrien County Jail.
Four were arrested May 12 and one was arrested at his Niles home that day for their alleged involvement in forcing the victim to have sex by threatening to post the video.
Three female victims have been identified in this case after one reported the allegations to Niles police.
Four of the five defendants have been confirmed as students at NHS. The alleged acts took place around March 18. In Nichols’ case, the charges stemmed from January.
According to court documents, the victim who made the report to police claims she was unknowingly videotaped having sex with Washington in Nichols’ bedroom. The video was reportedly located by police on Nichols’ laptop computer and cell phone.
Records show the defendants told the victim they would post the video if she did not perform or consent to sex with them, including vaginal, oral and digital sex.
Miller faces two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree; one count of extortion, a felony with a maximum 20-year sentence; and one count of possession of child sexually abusive material.
Martin is charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree; one count of extortion; and one count of possession of child sexually abusive material.
Washington faces one count of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree; one count of extortion; one count of making, financing or arranging child sexually abusive material, a 20-year felony; and one count of surveillance, a two-year felony.
Nichols faces one count of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree; three counts producing child sexually abusive material; one count of extortion; and three counts surveilling unclothed persons.
All five defendants were arraigned May 12 via satellite feed from the jail.
Nichols, Miller and Martin are scheduled for pre-exam conferences sometime next week.
Washington appeared in court Tuesday for his conference but did not enter a plea.
All defendants except Murphy are scheduled for a pre-examination June 8 at the courthouse in St. Joseph.

Editor’s note: Leader Publications does not print the names of sexual abuse victims.

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