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Man facing child pornography charges to remain in custody

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Assistant public defender Debra Lautenschlager speaks with her client John Heide after Chaves County District Judge Freddie J. Romero made a ruling Friday afternoon to offer him no conditions of release. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

A Roswell man facing 17 charges related to child pornography is being offered no bond or conditions of release.

Roswell Police Department detective Michael Burkowski testifies before Chaves County District Judge Freddie J. Romero Friday afternoon about the investigation of John Heide, who is charged with multiple counts of child pornography. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

The ruling to have 39-year-old John Robert Heide remain in the custody of the Chaves County Detention Center came after Chaves County District Judge Freddie J. Romero heard testimony from a Roswell Police Department detective during a motion hearing for pretrial detention Friday afternoon.

RPD detective Michael Burkowski, the case agent for the criminal complaint, told members of the court of an incident in late February involving a suspicious person observed watching a boys’ tennis practice at Cahoon Park.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Thomas and Assistant Public Defender Debra Lautenschlager both questioned Burkowski about the events that led to Heide’s April 4 arrest in the 500 block of Cypress Avenue.

After police discovered images of nude boys on Heide’s cellphone upon arriving at his mother’s residence in the 1200 block of West Eighth Street, Heide denied having any other child pornography in a later interview with authorities.

Heide eventually told police about an SD card he had hidden inside a pencil box. Police said after they obtained a search warrant, child pornography was found on three devices — Heide’s personal cellphone, the SD card from another cellphone and from the SD card inside the pencil box he had mentioned.

After Thomas asked if Burkowski had learned of anything else, he told the court how he found out that Heide had recently been released from prison after being charged with a 2002 criminal sexual penetration charge, a first-degree felony.

“He informed me of the details of how that incident took place,” Burkowski said. “Essentially, he said that he met the kid on a bus, they got off together, and then he convinced the kid to come back to his house.

“The incident that happened, when he went to prison the first time, was very similar to the story he told me about him being at the park that day. He said that he went to the park and he wanted to talk to the boys again, so those two were kind of coincided together.”

Burkowski reiterated that Heide had told detectives he had been “resisting urges” to talk with the boys at the park.

“I believe he was trying to resist urges to talk to the kids,” Burkowski said. “I mean, he did say that he wanted to talk to the boys, and I believe that is the precursor to him getting the kid back to his house.”

Along with the criminal complaint, Thomas submitted a judgment and conviction from the state of Wisconsin in 1996 for a felony crime of battery to a witness or juror, which resulted in a 3-year-probation sentence.

Lautenschlager asked Burkowski if any of the children in the photos were from Roswell.

“None of the children I saw I recognized for being from Roswell,” he replied.

After Burkoswki finished testifying, Thomas requested the judge deny bond to Heide, or at the very least, set a reasonable bond.

Lautenschlager noted the lack of knowledge associated with the 1996 Wisconsin complaint, as well as its age.

“Your honor, these pictures found on his computer and on his SD card on his phone, not one of those was anybody local, these were all things he downloaded from the internet,” Lautenschlager said. “No child in Roswell was used in the manufacture or storing of these.

“It is a concern that he was at the park fighting urges. I believe he has friends he can reside with that don’t live near children, and I would ask the court to allow that, with a reasonable bond.”

Romero then stated the prosecution had provided clear and convincing evidence that Heide poses a threat to the community and ruled that no conditions of release should be set for him pending trial.

Heide is charged with possession of a visual medium of child exploitation involving a child under the age of 13 — a fourth-degree felony — and 16 counts of the manufacture of visual mediums of sexual exploitation of children — all second-degree felonies.

A preliminary examination is set for Wednesday before Chaves County Magistrate Judge K.C. Rogers.

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.