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TEXARKANA -- A 21-year-old Ashdown man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to producing child pornography with a 5-year-old girl last year.

Additional charges involving the 5-year-old and a 13-year-old girl that are pending against Aaron Lloyd Mitchell are expected to be dismissed when he returns to court for sentencing in about four to six months, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Wulff said in court Thursday.

Mitchell appeared with Matt Hill, the assistant federal public defender, before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in Texarkana's downtown federal building Thursday morning. The case was initially scheduled to address whether Mitchell is competent to stand trial and whether he was competent when the illegal images of children were created last fall at a house in Foreman.

In early January, Hill filed a motion seeking a psychological evaluation of Mitchell. At Thursday's hearing, Hill and Wulff told the judge that they began discussing a plea in the case after receiving a report from a U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist. After finding Mitchell competent, Hickey accepted his plea of guilty to one of three counts of child pornography production listed in a federal indictment.

Mitchell faces 15 to 30 years at sentencing and must register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life. He has been in custody since his arrest last year on the Foreman property where the photos were taken. Mitchell has been in jail since his arrest Nov. 21.

The images were first brought to the attention of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through an anonymous posting to its online tip line Nov. 3.

The tip identified six photos associated with a user name on the social media and blogging site Tumblr, which appeared to be images depicting the sexual abuse of children. The tip included a warning that the individual posting the images "may be currently molesting 5-year-old and 13-year-old and posting pics."

The children's center received a second tip Nov. 5 from a Tumblr representative, and the tip included images identical to those received in the Nov. 3 tip. The center was able to conduct an analysis of some of the images, which identified the location where they were created on an iPhone 7 Plus, and provided a report Nov. 19 detailing the findings to the FBI.

The next day, the center and the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Intelligence Unit contacted the FBI's Texarkana office with the information. Agents in Little Rock used the location information extracted from the photos to identify a residence in Foreman at which the images were likely created. Texarkana FBI agents went to the property Nov. 21 and learned that Mitchell was living on the property. Mitchell was contacted by a nearby resident cooperating with the FBI and asked to come outside. When Mitchell walked out of the residence, he was "manipulating a cellphone in his hands," according to the criminal complaint. Mitchell reportedly admitted to taking the photos at the center of the investigation.

"Mitchell further admitted to posting the photos of the females on Tumblr," the federal complaint states. "Mitchell stated he had taken the photos through the Snapchat application, and then saved them to the camera roll on Mitchell's phone, but he believed he had deleted most of them."

Mitchell admitted to deleting the Tumblr app from his phone while FBI agents were standing outside the Foreman residence, according to the complaint.

Metro on 06/24/2019

Print Headline: Man, 21, pleads guilty to child porn with girl, 5

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