Judge may drop Karr's child porn charges

/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge said that she will consider a motion from John Mark Karr's attorney to dismiss child pornography possession charges against the former suspect in the murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.

Defense attorney Robert Amparan planned to ask Superior Court Judge Cerena Wong on Wednesday to dismiss five misdemeanor charges in the 2001 case, after Sonoma County Sheriff's officials revealed last week that the computer that allegedly held the illicit images was lost. Officials believe the computer was trashed along with other evidence when the sheriff's department moved to a new building in 2002.

Wong criticized Chief Deputy District Attorney Joann Risse for not telling her that the computer was lost even though the prosecutor has known about it since Aug. 30

The judge said she also would consider Wednesday whether to unseal evidence in the case because she previously had issued the sealing orders based on statements Risse made about continuing efforts to obtain more information from the computer.

"I'm very concerned about representations made to the court. The court made decisions based on those representations," Wong said.

Risse said her office has printouts of 1,600 photographs from the computer, including the five suspect images, but the original computer images are missing.

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.

The 41-year-old former schoolteacher was arrested Aug. 16 after making phone calls and writing e-mails suggesting he had killed JonBenet, a 6-year-old beauty queen, in her Boulder, Colorado, home in December 1996. He was returned to the U.S. from Thailand only to have the Ramsey case collapse when DNA tests failed to connect him to the crime.

Karr remains in Sonoma County jail on $200,000 bail.