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Karr freed after judge dismisses all child pornography charges

Karr freed after judge dismisses all child pornography charges

After two months behind bars in Colorado and California, John Mark Karr walked free when a judge dismissed child pornography charges against the former suspect in the slaying of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.
Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau ordered Karr released Thursday, after the prosecution conceded it could not prove the misdemeanor case against him.
Karr, 41, did not comment to reporters as he left jail flanked by his attorneys and rode off in a sport utility vehicle.
Karr's release ended his odyssey in the U.S. criminal justice system after he was extradited from Thailand in August on suspicion of killing the 6-year-old beauty queen. He was returned to California last month to face the five-year-old pornography case after DNA evidence cleared him of killing JonBenet in her Boulder, Colorado, home in 1996.
The pornography case fell apart almost as quickly, as investigators admitted losing the computer seized from Karr in April 2001, when he was working as a substitute teacher in Sonoma and Napa counties. The computer allegedly held the illegal images.
"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," said defense lawyer Robert Amparan. "I am pleasantly surprised by them having done the right thing."
In dropping the case, prosecutor Joan Risse said she could not prove when or whether Karr downloaded or accessed the illegal computer images.
She also acknowledged that if Karr was convicted, he would not have served any additional time in jail because he spent several months behind bars awaiting trial in 2001. Her office was seeking to have him register as a sex offender.
District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua said his office "exhausted all resources available" to prosecute Karr and suggested the delay in bringing Karr to trial was to blame.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Karr has benefited from his flight from these charges on the eve of trial in 2001," Passalacqua said in a statement.
Karr had fled the state after being released from jail in 2001 and had been on the lam until his arrest in Bangkok, which caused a sensation when he told reporters he was with JonBenet when she died.