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A 29-year-old Butte man facing 100 felony counts in a child pornography case pleaded guilty Thursday to one count in a plea deal with county prosecutors.

J-Cee Felde entered an “open plea” before Butte district court Judge Brad Newman, who carefully explained to the defendant that both state and defense would be “free” to recommend any sentence.

Each of the felony counts carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in the Montana State Prison.

Felde had previously denied in March the charges alleged by prosecutors.

The defense, according to Public Defender Ed Sheehy, is seeking a dismissal of 99 counts of felony sexual abuse of children (possession).

Butte-Silver Bow Deputy County Attorney Ann Shea asked Newman for additional time to respond to the defense’s motion, which he granted.

Felde allegedly downloaded online child pornography from a file-sharing network. Prosecutors allege he procured 100 images and/or videos that showed children engaged in sexual conduct, actual or simulated. One of the videos involved bestiality or sexual contact with an animal, according to court documents.

The investigation was led by a Kalispell-based investigator with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, who discovered an exchange of several pornographic files while monitoring file-sharing network Ephex, also known as Gnutella, court documents state.

Felde was identified as the customer, and the ICAC investigator and a Department of Homeland Security agent – assisted by Butte police — searched his home in late January after obtaining a warrant.

Documents state laptops, secure digital memory cards, phones, and flash drives were confiscated from Felde’s residence.

He was arrested by Butte police Jan. 27 and released on $100,000 bond March 9.

Newman vacated the Sept. 19 trial and ordered a presentence investigation as well as a psychosexual offender evaluation. A sentencing date was not set.

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Kathleen J. Bryan covers crime and courts for the Montana Standard. Follow her on Twitter. To send her a news tip, call (406) 496-5519 or email her.

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