Hearing set in child porn case

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A competency hearing is set for June in the case of a 21-year-old man accused of producing child pornography with two girls.

Aaron Lloyd Mitchell was ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in January to undergo a mental evaluation after Assistant Federal Public Defender Matt Hill filed a motion requesting it. Court records show the evaluation has been completed and a hearing to address Mitchell’s fitness to move ahead with his case is set for June 20 before Hickey in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas.

Mitchell pleaded not guilty in December to all three counts listed in a federal indictment accusing him of the production of child pornography. The first two counts of the indictment accuse Mitchell of creating images with the 5-year-old while she was wearing “Hello Kitty” and “Doughnut” panties on different dates between Sept. 1 and Nov. 3. The third count of the indictment alleges Mitchell photographed a part of his own body with the 13-year-old asleep in the background in the same date range.

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Mitchell was in a relationship with the 5-year-old’s mother and had been living with them on property in Foreman for several months. The 13-year-old is the daughter of a friend of the 5-year-old’s mother and often spent the night at the house.

FBI Agents were notified Nov. 3 by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that they had received an anonymous cyber-tip that someone was posting sexually explicit photos involving a child. The tip said the poster of the images may be currently molesting a 5-year-old as well as a 13-year-old girl.

Another tip was received Nov. 5 and appeared to contain images identical to those posted earlier. Using image analysis, officials were able to determine that the photos were taken with an iPhone 7 Plus, posted online with the Tumblr app, and were able to identify the location where the photos originated.

Mitchell was arrested Nov. 21. He is facing a minimum of 15 years in federal prison on each count if found guilty. Mitchell is being held in federal custody without bond.

If mental health experts have deemed Mitchell competent to proceed, Hickey is likely to set the case for trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Wulff is prosecuting.

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