A state appeals court panel Wednesday, Feb. 26 upheld a Los Angeles man’s conviction for trafficking teenage girls as young as 13 to work as prostitutes.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Raylonzo Roberts’ contention that the trial court erred in instructing jurors on two of the charges and violated his constitutional rights by admitting prior testimony of four victims who were unavailable to testify at his trial.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry sentenced Roberts to 281 years to life in state prison in December 2018, saying that he perceived the defendant to be a “danger to society.”
The crimes involving eight victims occurred at various times between August 2011 and July 2015, according to Deputy District Attorney Guillermo Santiso.
Roberts — a “third-strike” defendant who had prior convictions for robbery and attempted robbery in the 1990s — was arrested in August 2015 as a result of an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau Human Trafficking unit and the Long Beach Police Department.
He was convicted in October 2018 of two felony counts each of pandering by procuring a minor under age 16, human trafficking of a minor for a commercial sex act, human trafficking of a minor for a commercial sex act by force, fear, fraud or threat of injury and committing a lewd act on a child.
Jurors also convicted Roberts of one count each of human trafficking to commit another crime, aggravated sexual assault of a child and possession of a firearm by a felon.