Sudden guilty plea ends federal trial in blackmail case

A child sex trafficking trial came to an abrupt halt in federal court Wednesday when the defendant announced he wanted to confess rather than continue.

Corey Monroe McKinney, 36, then pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography and one count of sex trafficking of a child.

McKinney said that although he was satisfied with his lawyers’ work, he was disappointed with how his case was progressing.

“I expected the trial to be a little more like TV, with a little more defense,” McKinney told U.S. District Judge Greg Kays.

McKinney was accused of trying to blackmail a man after secretly videotaping him having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

Wednesday’s unexpected development came after a Kansas City police detective who specializes in human trafficking investigations testified that the girl’s ever-changing stories to police investigators were completely in keeping with others who have been compelled into prostitution.

After sending jurors to an early lunch, Kays announced that McKinney had passed word that he wanted to plead guilty. This sent prosecutors scrambling to prepare the paperwork necessary for a guilty plea.

In the meantime, Kays questioned the defendant.

“You have decided to plead guilty?” Kays asked.

“Yes, your honor,” McKinney answered.

McKinney explained that he was slow to make up his mind because his previous lawyers had been slow to show him the evidence.

“If I had known what I know today, I would have done this a long time ago,” he said.

McKinney also admitted that he had begun having sex with the girl when she was 14 years old and that he devised the blackmail scheme to get money to have his brakes fixed. Just before his arrest, McKinney worked as the executive chef at a now-defunct restaurant in the 18th and Vine historic area.

Federal prosecutors alleged that McKinney used the girl to lure the man into a sexual tryst while McKinney hid in a closet taping the encounter.

The next day, McKinney allegedly confronted him, told him the girl was underage and demanded $500 in exchange for the video.

The 31-year-old man withdrew $100 from an ATM that night and agreed to pay the rest at a later date. In subsequent text messages, McKinney demanded $500 more, prosecutors alleged. The man reported the incident to Kansas City police, who arrested McKinney after setting up a meeting to supposedly pay the money.