The first man Sioux Falls police arrested through undercover, online investigations changed his plea in court Thursday. Samuel Wilson pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor.
Undercover Sioux Falls officers began participating in online chat rooms this past February. Just three days later, they arrested Sam Wilson at a city park.
Wilson thought he was chatting with a 13-year-old girl and planned to meet her for sex. But instead he met up with police, was arrested and Thursday pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor.
Samuel Wilson arrived at the Minnehaha Country Courthouse today with a handful of friends and family members. He also had a quick statement for our camera.
Wilson says, “Don’t use that.”
But inside the courtroom, Wilson gave the judge just "yes" and "no" answers before pleading guilty to one count of solicitation of a minor. That plea is exactly what prosecutors wanted.
Minnehaha County Deputy State’s Attorney Hope Okerlund Matchan says, "That is, I think, the best indication that the individual is truly remorseful for the conduct that they engaged in. So that is what we're going to be seeking, generally."
Today's guilty plea came without a plea bargain from the state, which means Wilson could spend up to two years in prison and register as a sex offender. However, Wilson's lawyer indicated they'll ask the judge for a suspended imposition of sentence, meaning Wilson would serve time on probation. But that's a motion prosecutors plan to fight.
"The judge did indicate that if he were to grant a suspended imposition of sentence the defendant would still have to register and that of course is good. That's one of the mechanisms we use to keep the community safe,” says Okerlund Matchan.
Judge Brad Zell did not set a date for sentencing, but did order Wilson to undergo a psychosexual evaluation and a pre-sentence investigation. That will give the court background information to consider when Wilson's sentenced.
Wilson was also charged with attempted sexual contact, but that were dismissed.
Minnehaha County Deputy State's Attorney Hope Okerlund Matchan plans to push state lawmakers to reexamine the punishment for solicitation of a minor. She feels a ten year maximum sentence is more fitting for many of the cases.