A 21-year-old Joplin man pleaded guilty Monday to reduced charges in a child pornography case and will be sentenced in October.
Kevin D. Conner-Butcher, 3116 Jefferson Ave., pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to two counts of possession of child pornography in a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.
The defendant had been facing two Class B felony counts of promoting child pornography and a third Class B felony count of possession of child pornography. Class B felony convictions carry a punishment range of five to 15 years in prison.
Conner-Butcher pleaded guilty instead to two Class C felony counts of possession of child pornography under terms of his plea agreement, which would dismiss at sentencing one of the two counts of promoting illicit material. Class C felonies carry a penalty range of up to seven years in prison.
Circuit Judge David Dally delayed formal action on the plea agreement and set the defendant’s sentencing hearing for Oct. 21.
Conner-Butcher was arrested two years ago following an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Joplin police.
A Missouri State Highway Patrol investigator came across a known child pornography file on a computer in Joplin while conducting a search of a file-sharing network on the Internet in July 2011. An investigative subpoena revealed that the Cable One Internet address of the computer was assigned to Conner-Butcher’s home on Jefferson Avenue.
A search warrant was served at the residence Aug. 2, 2011, and a Dell laptop computer was seized, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed by the state patrol investigator. A forensic preview of the computer turned up both the video the investigator had viewed and another suspected image of a nude underage girl.
Conner-Butcher admitted to investigators possessing and distributing child pornography through a file-sharing network, according to the affidavit. A more thorough examination of his computer by a detective with the Joplin Police Department turned up 35 files with common child pornography search terms in their titles, according to a second affidavit.
SOME OF THE IMAGES and videos discovered on Kevin Conner-Butcher’s laptop computer depicted adults engaged in sexual acts with children as young as 2 and 3 years of age, according to an affidavit filed with the court.