KCK woman gets life sentence for human trafficking of daughters

A Kansas City, Kan., woman who drove her daughters to a Wichita hotel at least five times so a man could have sex with them was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

The woman, who pleaded guilty in October to two counts of aggravated human trafficking, will be eligible for parole after 25 years.

Her co-defendant, James Lamont Brown, 49, was sentenced earlier this month to 17 life prison terms without parole and is serving one of the longest sentences imposed by a Kansas judge in recent years.

Wichita police said Brown had sex with the girls, who are now 14 and 15, at the motel at least five times in 2010 and 2011. Some of the charges cover a time when the girls were 11 and 12 years old.

Prosecutors have said police became involved after the younger girl mentioned the abuse to a woman who was braiding her hair.

The mother testified at Brown’s trial that she sat on a motel bed and watched as Brown, whom she described as a cousin, had sex with her daughters. The mother is not being named to protect the identity of the girls.

Brown denied having ever met the girls when he testified on his own behalf. A Sedgwick County jury convicted him in November of nine of 10 counts of rape and eight of 10 counts of aggravated human trafficking. Because of his criminal past, he would have faced a sentence of life without parole if he had been convicted on just one of the 20 counts.

Because the mother had no prior felony convictions, she faced a presumptive sentence of life without parole for 25 years on each of the two human trafficking counts.

Defense lawyer Brad Sylvester argued that her cooperation in the case and her testimony at Brown’s trial entitled her to a shorter sentence. He asked District Judge Greg Waller to set the minimum sentence “so that when she gets out she will still have some of her life left.”

Sylvester said the mother, who is 35, was not a sexual predator.

“She caused a lot of harm, but there’s not a risk of reoffending in this case,” he said.

District Attorney Marc Bennett said that he appreciated the mother’s cooperation but that it was not enough to overcome her role in the crimes.

“It was an unspeakable horror that she had a very significant role in,” he said. “At some point, there has to be some measure of appropriate punishment.”

At the close of the hearing, Waller rejected Sylvester’s argument and imposed life sentences on both counts, ordering that they run concurrently.

Brown’s criminal record dates to March 1985, when he was one of 18 men charged with sexually exploiting 13- to 15-year-old runaway girls in Wichita. He pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent liberties and no contest to promoting prostitution and was placed on probation for two years.

Kansas Department of Corrections records show that the state’s longest sentence is being served by Jerry Dale Sellers, 41, who was sentenced to 38 terms of life without parole after being convicted in Saline County of 38 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Sellers had two prior indecent liberties convictions in Saline County and two prior aggravated indecent liberties convictions in Harvey County.