IMAGE: John Mark Karr in court
John Burgess  /  AP
John Mark Karr, left, appears with his lawyers Rob Amparan, right, and Gayle Gutekunst in Sonoma County Superior Court before Judge Cerena Wong on Thursday in Santa Rosa, Calif.
updated 9/14/2006 7:57:37 PM ET 2006-09-14T23:57:37

John Mark Karr, the one-time suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey case, plans to fight 5-year-old misdemeanor child pornography charges he faces in California, his defense lawyer said Thursday.

Karr appeared in Sonoma County court to answer the warrant for his arrest that was issued when he fled the state. Outside court, his lawyer, Robert Amparan, said Karr stood by the not guilty pleas the one-time school teacher entered after his 2001 arrest.

A clean-shaven and unshackled Karr sat in court wearing a blue jail jumpsuit and seemed to follow the proceedings attentively, exchanging written notes and whispering with his team of three lawyers. He did not speak directly to the judge.

Judge Cerena Wong set a trial date of Oct. 2.

Five misdemeanor counts of child pornography possession have been pending against Karr in Sonoma County since April 2001, when authorities arrested him and seized his computer, alleging that the hard drive contained five sexually oriented images of children.

Karr pleaded not guilty to all counts then, and was jailed for six months, but he left the country before he could be tried. Prosecutors decided to pursue the charges after Karr surfaced last month as a suspect in the Ramsey killing.

If convicted of the child pornography charges, Karr could get a year in prison on each count. Authorities have also said they want to re-examine Karr's computer for more illicit images.

Despite having confessed to killing Ramsey, Karr was released after investigators found no evidence tying him to the case. He was returned to California to face the child pornography charges on Monday and jailed without bail.

Amparan said he would seek to have bail set and argue for Karr's release during a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Karr, a former schoolteacher, was arrested in Thailand on Aug. 16 after he made phone calls and wrote e-mails in which he claimed to have killed Ramsey in her Boulder, Colo. home in December 1996.

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