Judge Jonathan Newell of the Caroline County Circuit Court was about to be arrested on a federal sexual exploitation of a child charge Friday, but he was found dead at his home from a self-inflicted wound when FBI agents entered the premises. In another instance of a high-profile individual in Maryland being arrested for alleged sex-related crimes against children, the criminal complaint, filed Thursday, charged Newell with one count of the sex crime against a minor.
"Upon entering the residence the agents found Newell suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. Maryland State Police will lead the investigation into the apparent suicide," reads a joint statement released by the Maryland US Attorney's office and other official sources.
According to NBC News, Newell's death unseals a federal affidavit, which in turn reveals that on July 23, Maryland State Police received a call complaining of a hidden video camera in a bathroom in Newell's cabin in Fishing Creek Maryland.
It appears that a minor found the camera, immediately took pictures of it, and sent them to his parents, explaining the situation. The parents, in turn, called the authorities, who investigated the case immediately.
At that time, Newell waived his Fifth Amendment rights and agreed to an interview with agents. During the interview, he said that many people had access to the cabin and denied that the camera was his.
However, he was observed shortly after swallowing an SD memory card, which is believed now to have contained evidence.
"The investigator heard a loud, distinguishable, 'crunch,' sound from the area of Newell’s mouth," an FBI agent wrote in a criminal complaint, the Washington Post reported. "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."
The next day, investigators with a warrant for CT scans of Newell's abdomen and pelvis escorted the judge to a nearby hospital. The images taken were described in a medical report cited in the FBI complaint: "18 mm linear possibly metallic foreign body within the small bowel. Diagnosis: Foreign Body Ingestion."
The observation led to the execution of a search warrant, which allowed agents to search Newell's cabin in its entirety, as well as his truck, boat and office. The search led to a hard drive contained within a safe at Newell's primary residence which had videos of naked boys showering, according to the affidavit. One video even showed Newell himself setting up the bathroom camera in question.
Well, at least he spared the state and the FBI the expense of preparing for trial.