GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Jarred Harrell, a person of interest in the murder of Somer Thompson, was in court this morning in Clay County to face child pornography charges following extradition early this morning.
Harrell, appearing toward the end of the morning's first hearings, faces 29 counts of child pornography. He participated via closed-circuit signal from the jail after all other inmates left the room.
The hearing lasted about five minutes. No family or friends were present. "I understand there is an interest in this case," Judge Richard Townsend said at the start of the morning bond hearings.
In October, 7-year-old Somer disappeared as she walked home from school in Orange Park. Authorities found her body days later in a Georgia landfill. The case remains unsolved.
This morning, Townsend also said there are reasonable grounds to think a crime has been committed. He set the arraignment for 9 a.m. March 10.
When asked if he had anything to add Harrell said, "No, Your Honor."
Harrell was allowed to make a phone call after the five-minute hearing. Public defender Kate Bedell appeared with Harrell. Bond remained the same as in Mississippi at $1,000,003.
Harrell left the jail in Meridian, Miss., in a police caravan of one truck and two cars around 10 a.m. Tuesday, arriving at the Clay County Jail at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday. Three cars drove quickly into the jail.
Even people who have lived near the jail for years are weary of Harrell's arrival.
"It's a media frenzy. I'm just hoping the officers can stay safe," says resident Mary Manges.
The extradition process has been ongoing since last week. Harrell said last week that he wanted to fight extradition and would not sign a waiver.
Thursday afternoon Florida Gov. Charlie Crist stepped in to formally request that Harrell be extradited from Mississippi to Clay County. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour complied Friday.
In a statement about the extradition last week, Crist said, "After working closely with the Office of State Attorney Angela Corey in the 4th Circuit, today I requested that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour grant the extradition of fugitive Jarred Mitchell Harrell to Florida, where he faces 29 counts of possession of child pornography."
Dale Carson, a retired FBI agent and defense attorney, said, based on his experience, Harrell will be ready to talk to detectives once he gets to Clay County. "It's more likely, in my view, he will talk about some things. They don't just clam up and not say anything."
Following Harrell's arrest in Mississippi nearly two weeks ago, Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler held a news conference announcing that Harrell was also a person of interest in the Somer case. He used to live near Somer's home, and along her route home from school.
First Coast News