Sex trafficker sentenced to nine years, four months

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A federal judge sentenced a 20-year-old El Cajon man Dec. 17 to nine years and four months in federal prison for sex trafficking of a minor.

“Damages done to these young girls last a lifetime,” said U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez, adding that the online prostitution business the defendant was running was like selling “a piece of meat.”

Denziel S. Burke pleaded guilty March 15 to sex trafficking of a 14-year-old girl whom he had advertised online and drove her to sexual encounters with men who answered the ads.

A federal judge sentenced a 20-year-old El Cajon man Dec. 17 to nine years and four months in federal prison for sex trafficking of a minor.

“Damages done to these young girls last a lifetime,” said U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez, adding that the online prostitution business the defendant was running was like selling “a piece of meat.”

Denziel S. Burke pleaded guilty March 15 to sex trafficking of a 14-year-old girl whom he had advertised online and drove her to sexual encounters with men who answered the ads.

“We’re going to send a message that we’re not going to tolerate this type of behavior,” said Benitez.

Burke had advertised the girl’s services on backpage.com in Aug., 2017 and text messaged the men who answered the ads. The girl was rescued after he fled from officers with the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Roscoe said victims of this type of crime “are real people.” He mentioned the girl was in the audience with her mother, and she now is back in school.

“It is uniquely troubling–selling of a human being for Mr. Burke’s own profit,” said Roscoe.

The judge noted Burke’s criminal record of two counts of inflicting corporal injuries upon a girlfriend. “You know what that tells me? You have a violent streak in you,” said Benitez.

Burke’s attorney, Michael McCabe, said a 9-year sentence was excessive and he urged a 3-year term.

Standing before Benitez in a tan uniform, Burke told the judge he had “made a big mistake,” saying he now has a wife and daughter.

“Being locked up really changed me,” said Burke. “Give me a chance.”

Benitez said he was going to impose 10 years, but the victim had urged him to impose slightly less time, so he imposed 112 months.

Burke was fined $5,000 and will get credit for a year and four months he has already spent in federal prison since his arrest Aug. 10, 2017 by San Diego Police and the U.S. Marshals Service.

School bus attacker pleads guilty

A man who attacked a Campo Elementary School bus driver with a knife pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to two counts of felony assault in the bizarre May 25 incident.

Matthew Douglas Barker, 37, also pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 22 and he is likely to receive a 1-year jail term with possible release to a long-term drug rehabilitation facility, said Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast.

Barker’s father and others told reporters at the time they thought he was hallucinating and believed his own children were in danger in the school bus. His father told KGTV (Channel 10) he suspected he had used methamphetamine that caused the hallucinations.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador said he is considering suspending a 6-year prison term that Barker won’t have to serve if he has no probation violations.

Brast said Barker had agreed to waive his jail credits if he can be released to a drug rehab facility.

The incident began at 8:31 a.m. at an apartment complex near Jeb Stuart Road in Campo when the 78-year-old bus driver saw Barker running towards the bus where his two children and niece were passengers.

Barker punched the driver in the face and stabbed an empty seat. The grandmother of one student jumped on Barker as he tried to stab the driver. A girl on the bus punched an emergency button and opened up a window allowing all the students to get out safely.

Barker, of Campo, pleaded guilty before having a preliminary hearing. He remains in jail without bail.

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