DESOTO COUNTY, MISS (localmemphis.com) - A former Shelby County School bus driver was found guilty of child exploitation after a jury deliberated for 15 to 20 minutes Wednesday.
Jeffory Turner was caught in an undercover Craigslist sting in 2015 after answering an ad for a sexual encounter.
Turner now faces 5 to 40 years in prison.
"I was very pleased. There was ample evidence to convict him. We take these crimes very seriously," said DeSoto County assistant district attorney Angela Huck.
"We respect the jury's decision whatever it is but that my client maintains his innocence," said defense attorney Haden Lawyer.
Investigators said September 29, 2015 Turner answered a Craiglist ad looking for sex. The ad didn't specify age, but Turner exchanged emails with a Timothy Singleton.
A couple messages later, Timothy said he was 15. Turner never questioned it, but on the stand said he thought Timothy was role playing.
"My client relied on the fact that he was on an adult website where people certify they're over 18 before they come on there," said Lawyer.
"When he gave an original statement he did not mention anything about any sort of role-playing," said Huck.
After two hours of messaging, Turner drove to Southaven to meet Timothy. He went to the home and was arrested.
Timothy was an undercover Southaven detective. The detective did not tell Turner he was caught in a sting and instead told him Timothy's dad was upset and encouraged Turner to write an apology letter.
"He's a good person of course if he thought that really happened he would feel terrible about it and they played on that," said Lawyer.
"The apology letter was evidence of his guilt in our opinion," said Huck.
As far as Turner's history as a school bus driver, his attorney said Turner is not a repeat child predator and has never had any misconduct with the children he was working with at the time.
While Turner's sentencing has yet to be scheduled he won't be released early and once he's out he will have to register as a sex offender.
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