Oregon man appeals judge’s decision to keep him in custody

Kris D. Stubblefield in October 2023

OREGON – A rural Oregon man is appealing a judge’s decision to keep him in jail as he faces charges of possessing images of child sexual abuse.

Kris D. Stubblefield, 32, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of possessing images after being arrested in October by Ogle County sheriff’s deputies who received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Stubblefield’s home, east of Oregon, was searched Oct. 12 after a monthslong investigation. He was arrested Oct. 21 and charged the next day with possession of six videos of children engaged in sex acts and two lewd photos of children. Charging documents say all of the children were younger than 13 and some were as young as 3.

The Illinois State Police and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, both of which work through the Illinois Crimes Against Children task force to target abusive crimes against children, assisted in the investigation. Charging documents indicate the offenses occurred in August and October.

On Thursday, Stubblefield appeared before Ogle County Judge John “Ben” Roe for a status hearing. Ogle County Public Defender Michael O’Brien appeared with Stubblefield while Ogle County Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kruse appeared for the state.

Earlier this month, Stubblefield filed an appeal of an Oct. 24 decision by Judge Clayton Lindsey to keep him in custody that cited the seriousness of the charges.

At that hearing, Kruse argued to keep Stubblefield in custody, citing reports from the Illinois attorney general and the sheriff’s office that he is registered as a juvenile sex offender and was in possession of more than 1,500 images of children engaged in sex acts with adults and some with other children. The photos and videos were found on Stubblefield’s phone, Kruse said.

When police searched his home, he agreed to speak to law enforcement and told an Ogle County sheriff’s detective that he was a “purveyor of taboo material,” Kruse told the court.

Kruse said Stubblefield also used file-sharing services to share files and to access “chats” on how to find files. “Because of his admissions to detectives about downloading and storing these images, he poses a real and present threat to the community and the public,” she told Lindsey.

She also said other cases when Stubblefield was a juvenile showed “an ongoing problem, especially with younger children.” She argued he should remain in jail because “there is no way to monitor him.”

Public Defender Kathleen Isley argued for Stubblefield’s release, citing his cooperation with law enforcement.

“We do acknowledge this is an extremely serious offense. He does have a juvenile record from when he was a teen that has been adjudicated, and he has remained on the sex offender list,” Isley said at the October hearing.

Isley argued there was no indication that Stubblefield had failed to report or to be monitored. She said he did not elude law enforcement in any way, and he has no history of violence and she said any conditions for his release could be controlled by the court to mitigate any threat to the public.

Lindsey said the charges were too serious to allow his release, noting that 1,500 files were found and there was a huge public concern over images of child sexual abuse and human trafficking. Stubblefield’s juvenile convictions also weighed on the decision to keep him in jail, Lindsey said.

In a pretrial hearing Nov. 9, Judge John Redington agreed with Lindsey, denying the defense’s motion for a pretrial release and on Thursday, Roe also upheld the state’s argument to keep Stubblefield in custody. “I will rule in favor of the state on that issue,” said Roe when denying the defense’s oral motion for pretrial release.

Stubblefield’s appeal is filed under the Pretrial Fairness Act and it argues he should be released because the state did not meet its burden of proving any real threat existed to persons or the community if Stubblefield were to be released. It also argues that the court “erred in its determination that no or combination of conditions would reasonably ensure the appearance of defendant for later hearings”. And it argues that the court has jurisdiction to review Stubblefield’s continued detention at each proceeding hearing despite the appeal.

Stubblefield has been declared indigent and will be represented by a state appellate defender in connection with the appeal. Court transcriptions from previous hearings and any official recordings will be sent to the appellate office within 30 days, according to the order.

The appeal follows passage of the controversial SAFE-T Act, which was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court and allows defendants to be released on no-cash bond. Under the new law, judges still decide whether a defendant is a flight risk or poses too much of a threat to one person or the community to allow release.

Stubblefield’s next court appearance in Ogle County is 1:30 p.m. Nov. 27.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 8 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.