A man convicted Tuesday of forcing a teen into prostitution in San Bernardino is the first to face new, harsher penalties for human trafficking offenses, authorities said.
Christopher Lee Knox, 28, faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced. Authorities said that Knox was a pimp who brutalized prostitutes under his control, beating them and zapping them with a stun gun disguised to look like a cell phone.
If he were convicted a year ago, he might have faced about eight years behind bars. But thanks to Proposition 35, he now faces at least 15 years to life in prison.
California voters overwhelmingly approved the proposition late last year. During the verdict, Knox fell to the ground and cried.
"This definitely sends a message to all of them that this county and this DA is taking this issue very seriously and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the laws," said San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Rodriguez.