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John Mark Karr's Child Porn Case Dismissed

John Mark Karr's Child Porn Case Dismissed
Karr's Boulder mug shot
Boulder County Sheriff's Office/AP

updated 10/05/2006 AT 08:10 PM EDT

originally published 10/05/2006 AT 06:40 PM EDT

John Mark Karr was officially released from the Sonoma County jail and the child pornography case against the onetime suspect in the murder of JonBenét Ramsey was dismissed on Thursday after prosecutors said they didn't have enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

"While it was known that child pornography was in Mr. Karr's computer, the people cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he possessed it within the specific timeframe required under the law," Donna Edwards, spokeswoman for the Sonoma County District Attorney, said Thursday.

Earlier in the case, Superior Court Judge Cerena Wong expressed anger that Karr's personal computer, where the child porn images were discovered in 2001, had been lost. Indeed, the missing computer evidence was critical to the case.

"Ever since Mr. Karr's recent reappearance, our efforts have been to do what's right, and in the interests of public safety," said Sonoma County Sheriff Big Cogbill, whose department was responsible for misplacing the evidence. "We do acknowledge that there were some performance issues five years ago when we worked this case. We're conducting an internal affairs investigation into these issues, and we're continuing an audit of our evidence handling procedures.”

If Karr, 41, had been found guilty, he would've faced no jail time because he served six months behind bars in 2001 while awaiting trial. However, he would have had to register as a sex offender.

Lawyers for Karr, who tried twice unsuccessfully to get the charges dismissed, expressed happiness at the outcome. "The impression that we've had all along is that the prosecution had every intention of getting this case to trial, regardless of the evidence," defense lawyer Robert Amparan told the Associated Press. "I am pleasantly surprised by them having done the right thing."

Karr, a former schoolteacher, was arrested in Thailand in August after suggesting that he was responsible for the 1996 death of Ramsey, a 6-year-old beauty queen, whose murder is still unsolved. He was returned to the U.S., but the case against him quickly collapsed after DNA failed to connect him to the crime.

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