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Federal jury in Pierre finds ex-train engineer guilty of child sex abuse, porn charges

Amin Ricker was booked into the Hughes County Jail in early 2017 and charged in state and federal court with child pornography crimes. Now 32, Ricker was convicted Friday, March 22, by a federal jury in Pierre on charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and several child pornography counts. Hughes County Jail

PIERRE, S.D. - A 32-year-old former railroad engineer was convicted by a jury late Friday night in federal court in Pierre of aggravated sexual abuse of a child under 12 and several child pornography charges.

The jury of six women and six men had spent a long week on the case and their conviction will mean decades in prison for Amin Ricker.

“This was a difficult case,” U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange told the court after the jury was dismissed about 9:15 p.m., Friday, March 22. “I don’t think I ever worked a jury this hard.”

It meant some long days and evenings of testimony and viewing of images that were difficult for jurors to have to view, Lange said.

The jury reached a unanimous verdict of guilt on each of the seven felony counts: two counts of aggravated assault of a child; a count of traveling with the intent to engage in sex with a child; a count of the criminal transport of child pornography; a count of distribution of child pornography; a count of the receipt of child pornography and a count of criminal possession of child pornography.

Lange ordered a pre-sentence report to be conducted and said Ricker likely would be sentenced on June 17.

Some of the charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Ricker has been free, released since January 2018 to the custody of his father, who moved from Florida to Pierre in August 2017 to help in his son’s defense.

Lange ordered Ricker be taken into custody of U.S. marshals, who removed Ricker’s tie and belt and handed them to his mother, before escorting him out of the courtroom.

He has spent time before in the Hughes County Jail which often has about 100 inmates being held for federal authorities and Ricker may wait in the Pierre jail for his sentencing in June.

But Ricker’s father had said he intended to provide the court with information arguing that his son was especially vulnerable to others who exploited him with child pornography on the internet.

His son is intelligent, paid well as a railroad engineer and also is trained as an airline mechanic, but has Asperger’s, considered a mild form of autism, his father told the Capital Journal. “Socially he’s 12,” Carl Ricker said.

On Friday, while leaving the courtroom after the jury’s verdict was read, Amin Ricker’s attorney, Justin Bell, said, “No comment.”

Bell had said in court filings he intended to use an insanity defense and to argue that Ricker’s autism was a factor in the case.

In early 2017, Ricker first was charged with only child pornography charges based on a search of his computers and other electronic equipment in his Pierre home. He also was charged in state court in Pierre by the Hughes County prosecutor for 10 counts of similar child pornography crimes that could mean 150 years in prison.

Ricker’s guilty plea in 2015 in state court in Huron to possessing child pornography enhanced the possible sentences in state court charges against him, if he were to be convicted of them.