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FARMINGTON —  A registered sex offender is facing charges of possession of child pornography and tampering with evidence after officers allegedly found a laptop computer that contained numerous photos in his Aztec home.

James Sears Jr., 45, is facing two fourth-degree felony charges filed in Aztec Magistrate Court on Feb. 9, according to the criminal complaint.

Sears waived his preliminary hearing on Thursday, and the case was bound over to district court, according to court records.

He was convicted of sexual exploitation of children — a class four felony charge — in the 6th District Court in Colorado in 2008, according to Colorado court records. Sears was charged on June 11, 2007, and pleaded guilty on Feb. 8, 2008.

Public defender Sarah Field, Sears' attorney, did not reply to a request for comment.

Sears has been convicted three times of failing to register as a sex offender.

He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges in 2014 and 2016 in Aztec Magistrate Court, according to court records. He also plead guilty to a class six felony charge in La Plata County, Colo., court in 2010, according to Colorado court records.

A probation officer and a deputy for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office placed Sears in a probationary hold while conducting house checks on Oct. 31, according to court paperwork. He has remained in custody at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center since the incident.

While speaking to the officers, Sears allegedly attempted to hide a smartphone under a mattress in his living room, according to court paperwork. When the officers asked Sears for the smartphone, he attempted to retrieve a different phone from a cardboard box in the living room.

When prompted by officers, Sears handed over the smartphone from under the mattress. The probation officer discovered a pornographic website open on the phone when he activated it, according to court records.

Sears stated he did not know how the website got on the phone.

When conducting a search of the browser history, the officers discovered multiple pornographic websites open on the smartphone, according to court paperwork.

Sears allegedly made a phone call to a female on Nov. 1 from the detention center and asked her to retrieve several items from his home, including two cell phones, a laptop computer and two tablets.

Police were able to identify the women and retrieve a laptop and two phones from her. A forensic search of the laptop computer yielded numerous images of child pornography.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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