updated 9/29/2006 3:37:37 PM ET 2006-09-29T19:37:37

Investigators found a version of lost computer data containing child pornography evidence against former JonBenet Ramsey suspect John Mark Karr, a prosecutor said Friday.

“A late-breaking development,” Judge Cerena Wong said at the start of a hearing on whether five misdemeanor counts dating from 2001 should be dismissed against Karr.

The find of computer data, announced by Sonoma County prosecutor Joann Risse, came two days after Risse had said that Karr’s computer hard drive and a copy of the contents were missing. Earlier, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department had said they lost Karr’s computer.

Defense lawyer Gayle Gutekunst had told the judge Wednesday that she has no way to properly defend Karr nor would prosecutors be able to make a case against him because “the crime scene is gone.”

Karr was not required to be in court and was absent from the hearing.

The 41-year-old former schoolteacher was arrested in Thailand last month after suggesting he killed JonBenet, a 6-year-old beauty queen, in her Boulder, Colo., home in 1996. He was returned to the U.S., but the Ramsey case quickly collapsed after DNA failed to connect him to the crime.

Karr had been arrested in California in 2001 on five misdemeanor counts of possession of child pornography. Three hard drives, a laptop computer, diskettes and a zip drive were seized from Karr’s home at the time of the arrest. He fled before the trial.

When he was returned to California from Colorado, Karr rejected a plea deal that would have allowed him to walk out of jail free if he agreed to plead guilty to two of the five charges, serve three years of probation and register as a sex offender.

He is being held on $200,000 bail because he is considered a flight risk.

Investigators testified earlier this week that they’ve discovered more child pornography on 100 diskettes, CDs and a removable disk drive taken from Karr in 2001. But Wong said the testimony was irrelevant because Karr has not been charged with any crime in connection with those images.

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