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story.lead_photo.caption Michael Preston Withers

BENTONVILLE — A Bella Vista man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for possessing child pornography.

Michael Withers, 57, pleaded guilty Monday to 20 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. The plea was reached in negotiation by Kevin Lammers, Withers' attorney, and Stuart Cearley, chief deputy prosecutor.

Withers was arrested Jan. 27, 2017.

Detectives with the Benton County Sheriff's Office began investigating in September 2016 after receiving a tip an individual had shared an image of a nude 8-year-old girl in a chat room, according to court documents.

Detectives were able to trace the information to Withers' home in Bella Vista, according to the probable cause affidavit. Detectives obtained a search warrant and seized laptops and other items from Withers' home.

According to the affidavit, 1,483 images that include photographs and videos were found on one of the computers.

Withers admitted in court to possessing child pornography.

Circuit Judge Robin Green sentenced Withers to 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Withers will have to abide by a suspended sentence agreement for seven years after his release from prison.

Withers will be required to register as a sex offender.

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