A former Little Rock police officer fired in 2020 after being indicted on federal counts of receipt and possession of child pornography testified Tuesday after testimony from a former friend-turned-prosecution witness that he would "just as soon pour dirt on him and leave him in the hole," which earned him a rebuke from the trial judge.
Eddie Scott Seaton, 55, took the stand in his own defense Tuesday, testifying for about 40 minutes before court adjourned for the day, recounting the Dec. 30, 2019, raid at his Cabot home that led to his indictment on federal charges of receipt and possession of child pornography the next March.
Seaton came under investigation after an investigator with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations Cyber Crime Unit downloaded suspected child pornography over a peer-to-peer file sharing network that originated in Central Arkansas and notified the FBI in Little Rock.
Testimony was brisk Tuesday and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristin Bryant and John Ray White rested the government's case less than five hours after putting on their first witness.
Seaton told jurors he had been friends since college with Kevin Michael Hicks, 50, and had allowed him to park in his driveway and use his shower and laundry after Hicks lost his apartment in September 2019 and was living out of his truck.
After the raid on Seaton's home, Hicks was charged in a separate indictment with receipt and possession of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in September 2021 to one count of possession of child pornography and was sentenced the next August to seven years in federal prison.
Seaton said he and Hicks reconnected in 2005 when Seaton moved back to Arkansas from Colorado.
Hicks, he said, was living with and caring for his mother and step-father in Dewitt but would travel to Cabot every couple of months to stay with Seaton for a few days or a week "to get away from his parents and kind of de-stress from the whole situation."
Sometime in 2014 or 2015, Seaton said, Hicks moved to Cabot and the two got together regularly to watch movies or play online video games. He said he tried unsuccessfully to get Hicks a job as a dispatcher.
"He never got around to going forward with getting the application to me on time so he never got the job," Seaton said.
"Looking back on it now, I don't believe he wanted one. I think he just used me for whatever he could use me for in our friendship and left it at that."
Seaton said he and his wife, Sandra, tried to help Hicks after he was evicted from his apartment in September 2019 but said care had to be taken to ensure that he kept Hicks separated from Seaton's dog, a German shepherd rescue named Heidi.
"Heidi didn't like him at all," Seaton said. "She would sit between me and him and growl at him ... nip at him if he got too close."
On Dec. 3o, 2019, Seaton said he was in uniform and about to walk out the door and head to work.
"I opened the door and stacked up on my truck were six guys from my SWAT team from the department where I work," he said. "Needless to say, it was a hell of a shock."
Taken to Arkansas State Police headquarters for questioning, Seaton said, he was met by his shift supervisors who took his badge and placed him on suspension. He said he was fired the next November and has been unemployed since that time.
"With this kind of a charge, it's really hard to find a job," he said, his voice barely audible.
Seaton said his first inkling that Hicks was involved in child pornography came the day of the raid.
"Due to some things that were said, I kind of pieced it together," he said.
"I derived from what other people had said that he was most likely the person who was causing it."
Seaton denied downloading the three anime images that are the basis for the child pornography receipt charge but said he didn't dispute they were downloaded to his computer, which he said had no password protection.
His attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr., asked him who downloaded the images.
"I do not know," he answered. "I believe Kevin did."
"What do you think about people that are involved in child pornography?" Hall asked.
"I think anybody that does it should have a bullet put in their head," Seaton said.
Prior to Tuesday in court, he said, the last time he had seen or spoken to his former friend was the day of the raid.
"And to be perfectly frank, I didn't want to see him," he said. "I didn't want to see him when he walked in the door today.
"I'd just as soon pour dirt on him and leave him in the hole," Seaton added, bitterly.
"Mr. Seaton," said Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr., looking up sharply from the bench, "confine your responses to Mr. Hall's questions."
Seaton is scheduled to return to the stand when testimony resumes at 9 a.m. today.
Earlier in the day, Hicks, who is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, was escorted into the courtroom by U.S. marshals. As he walked in to the courtroom, he and Seaton did not acknowledge one another as Hicks was sworn in and took his place on the witness stand.
Hicks said he had not been promised an early release in exchange for testifying against Seaton but said if an offer was made, "I wouldn't turn it down."
He said after he lost his apartment Seaton allowed him to stay in his driveway but said he wasn't allowed inside Seaton's home because, "He said his dog was scared of me and would crap all over his house."
Hicks denied using Seaton's computer and said he was given the password to Seaton's WiFi router just two weeks prior to the Dec. 30, 2019, raid.
He admitted he was indicted after videos depicting child porn were found on his laptop by investigators.
Asked if he was familiar with the term, "hentai," he described it as a form of animation created in Japan that focuses on sexual content.
"It's the Japanese word for pervert," he said. "Scott actually showed me hentai when we first met ... a series called 'La Blue Girl,' that featured an under-aged girl being sexually assaulted by monsters."
Hicks said Seaton had asked him one time if he knew how to access child porn online.
"I said not really, but I told him I didn't think it would be very hard," Hicks said.
Lane Gimnich, a digital forensic examiner with the FBI, spent about 45 minutes explaining to the jury how files are stored and accessed on computer hard drives and how deleted files can be recovered after deletion from unallocated space on the hard drive until they are overwritten by new data.
Going over records of thousands of visits to two websites where the user had accessed child pornography and child erotica, Gimnich testified the evidence he found indicated Seaton was the only person who had used the computer but he acknowledged under cross examination that because the computer was not password protected there was no way to know for certain.
Regarding the tens of thousands of images that had been recovered from unallocated space, Gimnich said although the thumbnail files were recovered, most of the file data was gone and there was no way to tell when the files were placed on the computer, when they were removed or when or how many times they were accessed.
"We just know at one point they were on the computer and then deleted," he said.