DENVER -- A Denver man has been hit with maximum prison time for human sex trafficking.
Matthew Weatherspoon, 24, was sentenced Monday to 24 years to life in prison. It's the first case like this that has gone to trial since July 2014.
That’s when legislators reworded Colorado’s statute to make sure offenders faced serious consequences.
Weatherspoon was interviewed in 2011 when he was charged with animal cruelty for stabbing a puppy. He’s now back behind bars, this time for good.
“It would surprise almost anyone to understand how quickly you can go to being your normal teenager to become someone whose being prostituted online,” said Cara Morlan, senior deputy district attorney in Arapahoe County.
The number of in-state human sex trafficking offenders keeps growing, but now those criminals will receive a penalty that fits the crime.
“It’s huge to allow a judge to give one of the harshest penalties we have under Colorado law for what we believe is one of the harshest and most severe crimes someone can commit. Those two things now line up,” Morlan said.
Weatherspoon was sentenced after being found guilty of trafficking a 15-year-old girl he met in 2015.
Before this, it was difficult to reach a maximum punishment when some crimes like maintaining or transporting a child fell under a lesser charge.
“This lets us look at the greater picture and look at it more of a combined action versus separate portions of who drives them, who posts them, who collects the money . This looks at all of that as a whole,” Morlan said.
Weatherspoon was already on probation when arrested in 2015. He was on probation for a crime when interviewed in 2011.
“He made bad choice after bad choice, which is what he held him accountable for,” Morlan said.
Typically, offenders will accept a plea bargain, but Weatherspoon maintains he did nothing wrong.