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Maryland Judge Killed Himself As Authorities Closed In For Child Porn Arrest

Judge Jonathan Newell, 50, allegedly ingested an SD memory card containing a trove of child porn, officials said. 

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A Maryland judge, accused of trying to hide evidence in a child porn case by swallowing an SD card, fatally shot himself as authorities arrived at his home to arrest him last week.

Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell was found dead on Friday morning at his residence in Henderson, Maryland by federal agents, officials said. He’d suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Maryland U.S. State Attorney’s Office. Newell, 50, was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Newell's neighbor uploaded images to social media of FBI had surrounding the property and that agents demanding Newell come outside. That neighbor later heard what sounded like gunshots, and afterwards, heard an ambulance. 

The Maryland circuit judge was facing federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, according to court documents. Earlier this summer, Newell was accused of installing a video camera in the bathroom at his fishing cabin in Fishing Creek, Maryland to spy on two young boys that were staying over at his residence.

Judge Jonathan Newell Md State

Police were tipped off after an unidentified male minor noticed the camera while undressing in the cabin’s bathroom. The camera’s lens, located in a black utility crate on a shelf in the corner of the restroom, was allegedly pointed in the direction of the shower. 

The boy and another unidentified minor had stayed with Newell the night before, investigators said. They were born in 2006 and 2007, respectively, according to the complaint. The two boys, later told their parents about the camera. 

Under questioning, Newell denied placing or noticing a camera in the cabin’s bathroom, claiming several people often stayed at the property.  

According to the FBI, Newell later went to his bedroom to charge his mobile phone. However, investigators say he instead ingested an SD card.

“The investigator heard a loud, distinguishable, ‘crunch,’ sound from the area of Newell’s mouth,” stated newly unsealed charging documents obtained by Oxygen.com. “After another minute or two, the investigator heard the same ‘crunch’ again from Newell’s mouth, followed by Newell immediately reaching for and drinking from a cup located on his dresser.”

 A camera was later found underneath the bed. The device’s SD memory card slot was empty.

A CT scan of his chest and abdomen revealed an 18 mm “metallic foreign body within the small bowel.” 

Seven other boys born between 2002 and 2007 who had stayed at the Maryland judge’s cabin were later interviewed by investigators. Two of the boys accused Newell of molesting them while claiming he was checking them for ticks. 

Several digital devices, including a Toshiba hard drive, were seized from Newell’s cabin and home. Investigators discovered a series of videos of underage boys undressing and showering.

The parents of the two boys who notified authorities about Newell's crimes this summer issued the judge a “no contact” request on Aug. 4, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The 50-year-old had been a judge since 2016.

Marcia Murphy, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, declined to comment on when contacted by Oxygen.com.

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