Prosecutors still investigating Karr porn case as trial nears | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Prosecutors still investigating Karr porn case as trial nears

Marcus Wohlsen

SANTA ROSA (AP) – Sonoma County authorities said Monday they continue to investigate former JonBenet Ramsey slaying suspect for child pornography even as his case was scheduled to go to trial.

Though investigators have conceded that they lost a computer containing the original five pornographic pictures for which he was charged in 2001, they believe they have other computer equipment that could contain more than 1,000 other images.

Deputy County Counsel Anne Keck told Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Cerena Wong that the FBI was reviewing other pornographic images, comparing them against a national database to determine whether underage children appear in the photos.

The disclosure came in a hearing over whether to unseal police documents in the case. Prosecutors have said the evidence should remain under seal because of the ongoing investigation of Karr, who recently was returned from Colorado to face the 5-year-old porn charges.

But FBI spokesman Joe Schadler later said the bureau’s role in the Karr investigation had ended, and was limited to providing expert testimony and forensic analysis of five pictures discovered on Karr’s computer in 2001.

“We’re not doing any further forensic work,” he said.

Wong refused to unseal the documents sought by The Press Democrat newspaper of Santa Rosa. She sealed affidavits and other police documents after prosecutors said it could harm the investigation and prejudice potential jurors.

Defense lawyers did not comment on the new twist in the case, but they renewed efforts to get child pornography charges dismissed and filed a motion to exclude the newly discovered computer evidence from his case.

“They don’t know how the images got there,” defense lawyer Robert Amparan said. “They don’t know whether Mr. Karr knew they were there. They don’t know when if ever they were viewed.”

Karr, 41, faces misdemeanors for allegedly having five images of child porn on his home computer when he was arrested in April 2001.

Karr appeared in court briefly looking tired and worn after spending more than a month in jail. Speaking in a soft voice, he waived his right to appear at the hearing and was led away by sheriff’s deputies.

Karr’s trial was originally scheduled to start Monday, but was postponed for further hearings Tuesday on defense motions to dismiss the case or throw out newly revealed computer data.

Karr rejected a plea deal that would have put him on probation. Prosecutors, who have conceded he probably won’t serve more time if convicted because he already spent several months in jail awaiting trial five years ago, said they want him to register as a sex offender.

Karr, who fled after being released in 2001, was jailed in lieu of $200,000 bail.

The former teacher was arrested in Thailand last month after suggesting he killed JonBenet, a 6-year-old beauty queen, in her Boulder, Colo., home in 1996. The Ramsey case quickly collapsed after DNA failed to connect him to the crime.


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