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Cross County man facing child porn charges requests bail hearing

by Dale Ellis | January 13, 2022 at 3:01 a.m.

A Cross County man was arraigned in federal court in Little Rock on Wednesday on multiple child pornography counts stemming from an indictment handed up by a grand jury in November in the Western District of Arkansas.

Michael Billy Whitehead, 35, was released from federal prison Aug. 28, 2019, after serving an eight-year sentence for child pornography. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to downloading more than 10,000 images of child pornography.

Whitehead was arrested at his workplace in Wynne on charges contained in the latest indictment, which include three counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He has been held in the Pulaski County jail since his arrest last Thursday.

At the time of his arrest, Whitehead was serving a term of 10 years on supervised release for a previous conviction. If convicted on the new charges he faces an enhanced sentencing range of 15 to 40 years in federal prison.

Appearing from the Pulaski County jail via video-conference link, Whitehead said little during the brief initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Kearney.

Kearney asked Whitehead if he was employed, to which Whitehead responded that he was unemployed.

"He had a job at the time of his arrest, but he's fairly certain he will not be able to return to it," said William Shelton Jr. with the Federal Public Defenders Office in Little Rock. Shelton was appointed by Kearney to represent Whitehead.

"He understands the charges and the potential penalty ranges. I've also discussed with him his rights under Rule 5. He wishes to waive an identity hearing, and he wants to request a bail hearing in this district," Shelton said.

"He wants a bail hearing here," Kearney responded.

"We are requesting detention," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant said.

Kearney set a detention hearing for Whitehead for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Print Headline: Man arraigned on child porn counts

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