A mother who had initially been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in connection with a child pornography case was set free by a grand jury on Monday.
According to officials, the grand jury did not indict Roseanna Nickles, 28, of rural Bonne Terre.
According to the Missouri Attorney General's Office, a grand jury is made up of 12 individuals who are chosen in a similar manner as trial jurors. A prosecutor presents evidence to 12 grand jurors, nine of whom must agree on whether a crime was committed and whether there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed it.
The decision of a grand jury can not be overturned, however, the prosecutor can file the charges again if additional evidence is discovered.
St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Gilliam said that new evidence was discovered by detectives that refuted the fact that Nickles knew anything about the sexual acts allegedly being done to her child by defendant Andrew Hotchkiss, 33, of rural Bonne Terre.
Hotchkiss was charged on May 17 with two counts of felony statutory sodomy in the first degree and felony possession of child pornography. In addition, two weeks later, on May 31, Hotchkiss was charged with 12 counts of felony sexual exploitation of a minor.
According to a probable cause statement by St. Francois County Det. Ken Wakefield, an officer from the Oregon State Police contacted Wakefield earlier that month regarding a possession of child pornography case.
According to the document, Oregon police found photographs showing child pornography that had been taken with a cellular phone.
Wakefield’s report states that the images contain metadata, which can be used to determine where the photographs were taken using global positioning coordinates (GPS). The coordinates revealed that the photos had been taken at a Quiet Lane address north of Bonne Terre.
A deputy in the sheriff’s department who was familiar with Hotchkiss because Hotchkiss had previously been a Leadwood police officer, viewed the photographs of a white male and was able to identify the man depicted in the photographs as Hotchkiss.
On May 17, a warrant was issued for the Quiet Lane residence. Investigators were able to determine that 12 separate photographs showing child pornography were taken in a bedroom of the residence.
The report states the photographs contain images of Hotchkiss performing sexual acts on a child less than 12 years of age. Hotchkiss remains in custody at the St. Francois County Jail on a $400,000 cash only bond.
Hotchkiss is scheduled to appear before Associate Circuit Judge Joseph Goff Jr. on June 25 for a bond reduction hearing.