Judge: Man held in child porn case needs phone access to hire lawyer

Philip Spear is led from a home in handcuffs on Temple Terrace in Ocean Springs on Thursday afternoon.
Philip Spear is led from a home in handcuffs on Temple Terrace in Ocean Springs on Thursday afternoon.

A judge directed federal marshals to give a detainee access to a telephone after learning he had not been able to find an attorney to represent him on child pornography allegations.

A Stone County jail transport van delivered Philip Spear to federal marshals Tuesday for hearings in U.S. District Court, but Spear had not hired an attorney.

“They gave me one telephone call,” Spear told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker.

Spear, 59, has been held since Sept. 8, 2016, when the FBI raided his home on Temple Terrace near East Beach in Ocean Springs. He was brought to court Tuesday for preliminary and detention hearings.

Spear’s wife told the judge she had called an attorney and was to meet with the lawyer Wednesday but said she didn’t know the attorney’s name.

Judge says make calls now

Walker told marshals he had already directed them to give Spear “full access” to a telephone so he could hire a lawyer.

“I want it done here,” Walker said.

Walker told Spear he would be given a list of attorney’s names and phone numbers so he could sit at the courthouse and make the phone calls. Walker said he didn’t want Spear returned to jail until he made the calls.

“Go down the list,” Walker told him. And he told marshals to let Spear use a pencil.

Walker re-set the hearings for 10 a.m. Friday.

Walker told Spear that when he’s brought before him again, he wants to know the names of every attorney Spear contacted, what they said and how much they will charge.

Wife has no access to money

Spear was brought to court with ankles shackled and hands cuffed at his waist. Another woman sat with his wife in the courtroom.

He told Walker he had not been able to speak to his wife, and said he needs to talk to her because she has no access to money for living expenses.

“My wife has no idea of our finances,” Spear said.

An attorney can address that issue, Walker said. But his wife cannot touch the money Spear claimed as assets when he provided his financial information, Walker added.

Spear’s earnings disqualify him from having a public defender, Walker decided at Spear’s initial court appearance last Friday.

About the investigation

Spear came under investigation in an undercover search of computer users who make child porn available for download via the internet, an FBI Task Force agent said in the affidavit that led to Spear’s arrest.

A cybercrime investigator for the state Attorney General’s Office downloaded a video May 12 that shows a naked child, partially covered by a blanket, the affidavit said. A man in the video touches the girl’s private parts and tries to have sex with her.

Investigators linked the video to Spear’s internet service account and found 97 files that he had made available for downloads from Oct. 7, 2015, through July 10, according to the affidavit. The files allegedly show sexually graphic videos of young girls who had not reached puberty and a juvenile, whom Spear knows, performing oral sex on him.

In an interview with investigators Thursday, Spear said he’s had a sexual interest in children since he was 12 and began downloading child porn via the internet five or six years ago, when he lived in the Philippines, the affidavit said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews