St. Martin couple to return to Mississippi to face charges

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A St. Martin couple has waived extradition and will be returned to Mississippi to face charges of having sex with teenagers.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said Ricky Earls, 32, and his wife, Christina Earls, 34, on Monday waived their rights to an extradition hearing. They are being held in San Diego where they were arrested a week ago. They are charged with child exploitation.

Byrd said he hopes to have them back in Mississippi this week.

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Deputies learned of the alleged sex crimes after one of the four victims — ages 13, 14 or 15 — reportedly told his parents, who reported it to investigators July 6.

Ricky and Christina Earls have each been charged with one count of felony child exploitation. Christina Earls was charged with four additional counts of sexual battery.

Investigator Mike Ballard said more charges are expected as the investigation continues.

Byrd said investigators have searched the couple’s home and other possible crime scenes. They also have seized the couple’s computer and other items.

Byrd said the incidents began in February 2006.

Sex exploitation charges carry sentences of 2 years to 40 years per count. A conviction of sexual battery could mean 5 years to life.