LARGO, Florida (WTSP) -- The Largo puppeteer who was arrested on child porn charges and conspiring to kidnap a child has rejected a plea deal that could have given him as little as six years in prison.
Ronald Brown signed a plea agreement, but at the last minute Wednesday morning changed his mind and decided to go to trial.
Investigators arrested Brown in July. They searched his mobile home in the Whispering Pines community along 142nd Avenue in Largo. They said, apart from pornographic images of children, he had Internet chats with other men about killing children and eating them.
Brown's attorney, Eric Kuske Leanza, said it's his client's right to a trial. However, the plea deal would have given Brown as little as six years in prison. He now faces much more.
"The government has stated that because he did not accept the plea that would allow him to have a fairly low sentence, they're going to superseded and add a variety of additional charges which will probably equate to something tantamount to a life sentence now," said Kuske Leanza.
Brown volunteered in the Puppet Ministry at Gulf Coast Church in Largo. Neighbors said he always had children over at his house, gave them sweets and food, and took them to church.
Roger Newsome, who lives in Whispering Pines, said his three sons spent time at Brown's house over the course of a year, probably more than any other children who came in contact with Brown. Now that a trial is expected to move forward, Newsome knows it's possible his sons could end up testifying in court.
"I'm kind of thinking they might. And if he's done anything, I just hope it comes out. I don't know the guy personally. I met him a couple times and he's a creep," said Newsome.
A status hearing is scheduled Thursday in Brown's case. His attorney said the trial could start by March or April 2013.