Man sentenced in online sex sting

A Grand Junction man caught up in an online sex sting will spend at least the next 10 years of his life on probation, Mesa County District Court Judge Richard Gurley said Monday.

Gurley told John L. Merritt, 26, of Grand Junction, that his actions two years ago, sending pornography over the Internet to a police investigator posing as a 14-year-old girl and setting up a meeting, were incomprehensible.

The judge said even if Merritt did not show up at the meeting spot, he did not see how that mitigated his actions online.

Merritt apologized to the judge and said he was trying to look on the positive side of his arrest and labeling as a sex offender.

“I wish that this never happened,” he said.

Gurley sentenced Merritt to 10 years to life on probation along with requiring him to register as a sex offender.

Local police arrested Merritt after he set up a meeting with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl he had spoken with online, according to court files.

Merritt, court records show, was never seen at the meeting place but was arrested in March 2007.

A jury convicted Merritt in August despite his pleas to the jury that he thought he was talking to an adult over the Internet.

“I was playing along with a fantasy I believed was going on,” Merritt said then.


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