(Reuters) - A New Jersey man has been charged with murdering his cousin and her 10-year-old foster daughter after he was caught taking pornographic pictures of the child, authorities said on Thursday.
Brian Farmer, 58, of Long Branch appeared in Monmouth County Superior Court on Thursday on two charges of first-degree murder, and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child for the July 30 killings, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said.
Prosecutors said Farmer's cousin, 62-year-old Joan Colbert, found him inside her apartment taking pornographic photographs of her 10-year-old foster daughter. A "confrontation ensued" and Farmer strangled both and fled the scene, prosecutors said.
Detectives investigated the killings for nearly two weeks, and charged Farmer on Wednesday after finding pornographic images of the girl on his cell phone, the prosecutor's office said.
Farmer was ordered held on $2.5 million cash only bail, the prosecutor's office said.
If convicted, Farmer faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the dual murder counts.
In an unrelated incident in 1996, Farmer was convicted for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female while armed with a knife, according to the state's sex offender registry. Farmer kept the victim and her mother tied up in their home for three days.
When the two escaped, Farmer burned their house down, the registry said. He served 13 years in prison on the sexual assault and arson charges and was released in October 2009, according to the state's department of corrections.
It was not immediately clear who is serving as Farmer's attorney in the current case.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)