Asher D. Emerson, 51, of Avondale was arrested for DUI on Friday. The DUI charge proved to be the least of his problems after a search of his vehicle he was later charged with 94 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Emerson was arrested at 2:30 p.m., for driving with a blood-alcohol concentration in excess of .08 percent, by Department of Public Safety Officer Vern Havens about 13 miles south of Payson on Highway 87. Officer Terry Phillips conducted an inventory of Emerson's vehicle, prior to being towed. Phillips found a file box containing sexually explicit photographs of what he believed to involve children.
Phillips seized the box and had the vehicle impounded. The Gila County Sheriff's Department investigators were called to assist with the sexual material portion of the investigation.
Sheriff's Detective Brian Havey served a search warrant on the vehicle and file box Saturday, locating more than 300 computer-generated photographs.
Emerson was charged with 94 counts of sexual exploitation of minors based on the content of the photographs.
Havey contacted the Avondale police, who then served a search warrant on Emerson's Avondale home Saturday. Avondale detectives seized a home computer, related discs and files.
Havey said the files at Emerson's home contained an additional six to eight hundred sexually explicit photographs.
"Some contained pictures of adults, some were juveniles," Havey said.
"The youngest so far is probably, in my estimation, five years of age."
Sunday, Havey served a warrant on Emerson's place of employment at the Arizona Corporation Commission where he is employed as an electrical engineer. Emerson's computer and files were seized from his work space.
According to Havey, the work and home computer hard drives will be sent to the DPS crime lab to determine if the photographs were obtained from the Internet.
Emerson remains in custody in Gila County on a $500,000 bond.