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Child pornography guilty plea prepared

Ex-newspaper employee will seek counseling alternative

A former employee of The Spokesman-Review and his attorney have reached an agreement in principle with prosecutors to plead guilty to several charges of possession of child pornography.

Zachary L. Likarich, 31, was charged in 2007 with 21 counts of possessing child pornography that investigators alleged he obtained while working as an online marketing developer for the company.

Likarich was fired from The Spokesman-Review Jan. 22, 2007, the same day the company’s former online publisher and an attorney contacted police after reviewing the contents of a computer that had been assigned to Likarich.

He had been hired on Oct. 5, 2005, as a graphic designer and later transferred to the online marketing department. Spokane police Detective Jerry Keller said in court records that a newspaper photo archivist discovered the sexually explicit photographs and movies of children as young as 5 when she opened a computer folder on the company’s internal network.

Likarich was scheduled to appear Friday for a conference in advance of the trial scheduled to start June 15, but Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Sharon Hedlund could not attend.

Likarich’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Steven Reich, said his client agreed to plead guilty to the case as charged. Reich said Likarich will face a sentencing range of 12 to 14 months in prison.

“We are going to ask the judge for a counseling alternative,” Reich said.

If approved by Superior Court Judge Michael Price, Likarich would be required to pay for the counseling as part of Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative.

Reich said he’s working on scheduling an evaluation for his client that is necessary prior to enrollment in the sentencing alternative. A plea date has not yet been scheduled.

Likarich, who attended in anticipation of the hearing, had no comment.

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