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Surrett Charged with 20 Counts of 3rd Degree Child Exploitation

Justin Gabriel Surrett

A man from Waynesville has been sentenced to 12-34 months in state prison after pleading guilty to 20 charges related to the possession of child pornography.

Justin Gabriel Surrett, aged 36, admitted to 20 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Authorities discovered over 700 images of child pornography in his possession, including disturbing videos depicting the sexual abuse of infants and toddlers. Judge Gary Gavenus determined that Surrett was competent to stand trial, allowing the evidence to be presented. Surrett ultimately accepted a plea deal the following day.

The guilty pleas followed hearings in Haywood County Superior Court, where Surrett’s mental capacity to stand trial was questioned, along with the admissibility of evidence obtained through the search warrant. The investigation was initiated after the messaging app Kik flagged four videos as child sexual abuse material (CSAM), prompting a report to the State Bureau of Investigation. The SBI traced the IP address to Haywood County and subsequently transferred the case to the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office. During the search of Surrett’s residence, law enforcement officers also discovered multiple loaded guns and marijuana, both of which were found in the same home where Surrett lived with his 10-year-old daughter. Surrett admitted to having legal adult pornography stored in his daughter’s room as well.

Among the items seized during the search of Surrett’s home were six cellphones, a laptop, three flash drives, and several SD cards, as detailed in court documents. Despite Surrett’s claims of being mentally unfit for trial or having a mental disability that affected his understanding of his actions, a psychologist who evaluated him suggested that he was feigning his condition. As part of his sentencing, Surrett will be registered as a sex offender for 30 years following his release and will be prohibited from residing with any minor child.

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