Today's Paper Election 2020 Coronavirus Updates Weather Latest Obits HER Jobs Classifieds Newsletters Puzzles Circulars
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

A 21-year-old Ashdown, Ark., man pleaded guilty in a Texarkana federal court Thursday 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 Assistant Federal Public Defender Matt Hill 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 at the time he created the illegal images of children last fall at a house in Foreman, Ark.

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

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 he created the offensive images.

Mitchell allegedly took a picture of himself in a state of arousal with the 13-year-old sleeping in the image, according to the indictment. The first two counts of the indictment allege Mitchell created images involving the 5-year-old while she was clad in "Hello Kitty" and "Doughnut" panties and while Mitchell sexually abused the girl.

All of the images were created Sept. 1 through Nov. 3 on property in Foreman, Ark., where Mitchell was living with the mother of the younger girl. The 13-year-old is the daughter of a friend of the 5-year-old's mother, according to a criminal complaint filed at the time of Mitchell's arrest last month.

Mitchell has been in jail since his arrest Nov. 21 following an investigation by the FBI and in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The images were first brought to the attention of NCMEC 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."

Mitchell's Tumblr username is pornographic, refers to the sexual abuse of children and is not suitable for publication.

NCMEC received a second tip Nov. 5 from a Tumblr representative which included images identical to those received in the Nov. 3 tip. NCMEC 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 following day, NCMEC 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 from their investigation 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 allegedly "manipulating a cell phone in his hands."

Mitchell admitted to taking the photos inside the residence of the 5- and-13-year-old girls depicted in the photographs at the center of the investigation.

"Mitchell further admitted to posting the photos of the females on Tumblr," a 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.

He remains in federal custody.

[email protected]

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT