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Texas man sentenced to 15 years on child porn charges

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A former Hot Springs man who had moved to Texas was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday on 10 felony counts involving child pornography after a bench hearing in Garland County Circuit Court, having pleaded no contest to the charges last year.

Larry Douglas Matheny Jr., 35, who lists a Forney, Texas, address, was set to stand trial Nov. 6, 2017, but opted to plead no contest to 10 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The 10 counts all involved a female from Hot Springs when she was 12 to 13 years old. An additional 18 counts of the same charge were withdrawn by prosecutors as part of the plea agreement.

After a hearing Friday morning during which Judge John Homer Wright heard testimony from Matheny and other witnesses, he sentenced Matheny to 10 years each on nine of the counts, to run concurrent, and five years on one count, to run consecutive, for a total of 15 years.

Matheny was arrested on Dec. 19, 2016, in Texas and extradited to Hot Springs that same day. He has remained in custody in lieu of $50,000 bond since his arrest.

According to the affidavit, on April 30, 2014, Matheny's wife filed a report with the Garland County Sheriff's Department after discovering images of child pornography on a MicroSD card she found while cleaning out boxes at her residence in Hot Springs.

She said the card contained images from a family vacation a month before and photos of about 30 nude females who appeared to be 10 to 13 years old. She recognized one as the daughter of some family friends. She noted it appeared the photos were taken by the juvenile herself inside a bathroom using a cellphone.

On July 21, 2014, Arkansas State Police Special Agent Russ Rhodes obtained a search warrant and performed a forensic examination of the MicroSD card and located a total of 13 photos of the known juvenile victim, including 10 nude photos.

On Aug. 3, 2014, the victim's mother talked to her daughter, who admitted she had been communicating with someone she knew only as "Kevin" on a message app called Kik and she had sent "Kevin" nude photos of herself she took at their residence in Hot Springs.

The victim said "Kevin" had also sent her nude photos of himself. She said she thought he was a young person who went to a different school. She said she had tried unsuccessfully to meet up with him and she eventually blocked him on Kik "because he was bothering her."

The victim's mother unlocked "Kevin" on her daughter's Kik account and began communicating with him pretending to be the victim. "Kevin" sent some photos of his privates to the mother who thought she recognized the hands in the photos as those of Matheny.

She said she and her husband went to Matheny's residence in Hot Springs that same day and confiscated his cellphone.

Later that same day, Rhodes interviewed Matheny and he gave a statement admitting he communicated with the victim using a dummy account and received nude photos of her. He also admitted he knew she was 12 to 13 years old, but denied any knowledge of the MicroSD card his wife found, which included the nude photos of the victim.

On Oct. 7, 2014, Rhodes obtained a search warrant for Matheny's cellphone and found 12 images of child pornography involving nude juvenile females and the Kik conversation between Matheny and the victim's mother. Matheny had a total of 28 child pornography images in his possession.

Local on 05/16/2018

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