A Des Moines man who spent decades in prison for the death of his infant son was sentenced Friday to 55 more years after his conviction on federal child pornography and weapon charges.
Federal authorities charged Gary Elliott Sr., 62, who had been released from prison in 2015, with receipt, possession and production of child pornography, as well as possessing a firearm as a felon. In January, he pleaded guilty to one charge each of producing and receiving child porn and to the weapon charge.
According to court filings, two women who knew Elliott reported to police in February 2021 that they had seen "hundreds, if not thousands, of child pornography pictures" on his electronic devices, including unclothed images of children who had lived with him in 2018.
Hours after one of the women spoke with Des Moines police, she called back to say Elliott had a gun and had threatened to kill her and the other woman. Officers found Elliott in his car with a loaded gun outside the woman's apartment.
Police obtained search warrants for his electronic devices and found what prosecutors describe as a "vast" collection of images, including not just explicit sexual images but videos Elliott recorded of himself making sexual comments about non-sexual pictures of children. The collection included images of three children, two under the age of 12, that Elliott had recorded with hidden cameras in his home.
27 years in prison for son's death; wife said Elliott hit infant
Elliott was sentenced in 1988 to life in prison in Texas for the death of his month-old son Gary Jr. He served 27 years.
The infant suffered a serious injury and died when Elliott and his then-wife were vacationing on South Pade Island in Texas. The baby's twin brother also was hospitalized for serious injuries after the family returned to Des Moines.
As part of a plea deal, Elliott pleaded guilty to failing to provide timely medical aid for the boy. His wife, who was sentenced to 10 years on similar charges, told investigators she'd seen Elliott hit the child, but that she was afraid to get help for the baby because her husband frequently beat her as well.
In court filings, prosecutors noted that some of the pornographic files on Elliott's devices were created as early as October 2015, meaning he began amassing images within months of his August 2015 parole.
Prosecutor: 'An unmitigated danger to society'
Prosecutors had requested a sentence of 60 years for Elliott in the child porn case.
"It’s hard to overstate the danger Elliott presents to the public. He is a sexual deviant who believes kindergarten-aged children are 'ready' to be sexually abused," prosecutor Ryan Leemkuil wrote, also describing Elliott as "an unmitigated danger to society."
In addition to the conduct captured on video, prosecutors note, one of the child victims told forensic interviewers she'd walked in on Elliott inappropriately touching one of the other children.
Elliott's attorney did not respond to a message Friday seeking comment. In court filings, his attorney asked that he be sentenced to the 15-year mandatory minimum sentence and noted his age, multiple health conditions and struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
"Even if sentenced to the statutory minimum sentence of 15 years in this case, he will be 77 years old when released from custody. He will then face a parole violation in the State of Texas," attorney Erin Carr wrote. "There is no need to punish Defendant more than what is required by statute. Any sentence this Court imposes is likely to be a life sentence for the Defendant."
Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger sentenced Elliott to 30, 20 and five years on the three charges he pleaded to, each to run consecutively. She also ordered him to pay $27,000 in restitution.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Des Moines man paroled after son's death gets 55 years for child porn