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BENTONVILLE — Joseph Hutchens, a retired Arkansas state trooper, stood in a courtroom Thursday and apologized for bringing disgrace to the uniform he wore for more than 25 years.

Hutchens, 66, pleaded no contest to 10 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was charged as a habitual offender and received 56 years in prison.

Stuart Cearley, chief deputy prosecutor, agreed to dismiss another 10 counts under a plea agreement reached with Shane Wilkinson, Hutchens’ attorney.

Hutchens retired from State Police and was working as a bailiff when he was arrested on child pornography-related charges.

At A Glance

Joseph Hutchens

Joseph Truman Hutchens had worked as a bailiff for now-retired Benton County Circuit Judge David Clinger for almost a year when he was arrested in 2005 on child porn charges. He was a state trooper for 26 years.

Source: Staff Report

He pleaded guilty in January 2007 to eight counts of possessing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was sentenced to five years in prison on each count. The sentences were to be served concurrently.

A forensic examination of the hard drive of Hutchens’ computer revealed at least 37 images of suspected child porn, according to court documents.

Hutchens was arrested March 25, 2010, in connection with violating parole and a suspended-sentence agreement. His parole officer discovered Hutchens was in possession of child pornography during a visit to Hutchens’ home, according to Cearley.

Hutchens, dressed in black-and-white-striped jail clothing Thursday, did not dispute Cearley’s description of the crime.

Hutchens told Circuit Judge John Scott he wasn’t coerced into entering the plea and he understood he was giving up his right to a jury trial.

Scott wanted to know whether Hutchens was satisfied with Wilkinson’s representation.

“Were you familiar with Mr. Wilkinson?” Scott asked Hutchens.

Hutchens told Scott that Wilkinson was his first choice among numerous defense attorneys he was familiar with.

Wilkinson was the deputy prosecutor assigned to the first case when Hutchens pleaded guilty in 2007.

Hutchens told Scott he used the knowledge he gained in his law enforcement career when deciding whether to enter the plea to resolve the case.

Scott accepted the plea agreement and Hutchens’ guilty plea.

Hutchens was sentenced to 20 years each on two counts and 16 years on a third count. The sentences will be served consecutively — a total of 56 years. He received a 10-year suspended sentence for the remaining counts.

He was sentenced to 24 years in connection with the suspended sentence in the 2007 plea. The sentence will run concurrently with the other sentence.

Hutchens was given credit for 650 days he spent in custody while awaiting trial. He must serve one-sixth of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Hutchens apologized for his actions and told Scott he was remorseful about his conduct.

“I’ve destroyed my life,” Hutchens said. “I’ve destroyed my family. I’ve destroyed my career.”

Hutchens also apologized for disgracing the State Police.

“I am extremely remorseful,” Hutchens said.

Hutchens can’t have unsupervised contact with minors, and he must register as a sex offender and comply with all terms of a registered sex offender.

“Joe Hutchens had a distinguished and decorated career with the Arkansas State Police,” Wilkinson said after the plea. “He protected and served this community well for nearly 30 years. His mistakes since that time, no matter how egregious, do not erase all of the good he has done in his life.”

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