Sex sting trial gets underway
KINGMAN — Mohave County prosecutor Greg McPhillips told a trial jury Tuesday that a 63-year-old Las Vegas man exchanged more than 1,200 text messages with a detective posing as a 13-year-old girl before driving to Kingman in an attempt to have sex with her last October.
He said officers greeted Kevin Harry Moninger when he showed up at a motel with Viagra in his pocket and gifts for the girl he soon learned was a detective.
McPhillips said Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Detective Brennan Cassidy, who specializes in forensic electronic case work, posed as a 13-year-old girl named “Sabrina.” He said the initial communication occurred when Moninger responded to an advertisement that was posted on the Doublelist internet match site and that Cassidy diverted the conversations to text messages.
“It will hurt a little the first time. I will try to be gentle,” said one Moninger text that McPhillips read to the jury. “The defendant intended to have sex with a 13-year-old child.”
McPhillips said Cassidy, when posing as the teen, indicated that she didn’t drive and could meet only when her mother was at work. He said Moninger clearly targeted a minor in pursuit of sexual gratification.
“He knew what he was doing. He knew it’s not OK,” McPhillips said.
Moninger’s attorney, Robin Puchek, asserted an entrapment defense and encouraged the jury to acquit his client. He said the idea for the crime originated with law enforcement and that Moninger was “urged and induced” to engage in illegal conduct.
Puchek said Cassidy, posing as Sabrina, attempted to revive Moninger’s interest in her after he expressed concern that she might be a cop working a sting operation. He told the jury that Moninger will take the witness stand near the end of the trial.
Moninger is charged with three counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation and one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor.
Another Las Vegas man snared in the undercover operation, Durrel Keith Shaw, 33, and George Lizotte, 72, of Bullhead City, have reached identical plea agreements resolving their cases. They face 5- to 10-year prison terms in upcoming sentencing hearings.
Five other Arizona men also have been charged in the case.