Stoned Truck Driver With Stash Of Child Porn Going To Prison Due To Quick Thinking Trooper

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Benjamin Samuel Speights [Photo courtesy Cochise County Sheriff's Office]

A convicted sex offender from California who was working as an over-the-road truck driver in 2020 is slated to spend the next 21 years in prison due to an alert Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper.

Benjamin Samuel Speights pleaded guilty last month to a Class 2 felony of sexual exploitation of a minor as part of a plea deal negotiated between his court-appointed defense counsel and the Cochise County Attorney’s Office. The charge involves possession of child pornography found when Speights was arrested by DPS Trooper Aaron Bradley for possession of marijuana in a commercial tractor-trailer.

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Speights, 45, spent 193 days in jail following his arrest until he was able to secure his pretrial release in early 2021 by posting a $10,000 bond and undergoing constant GPS monitoring. The plea deal agreed to by the parties and Judge Laura Cardinal allows Speights to remain out of custody until sentencing, despite the lengthy prison term and Speights’ criminal history.

That history includes a felony conviction for lewd or lascivious acts committed against a child under age 14 in 2005 in California. The offense led to Speights, then 28, being ordered to register as a sex offender.

Court records show Speights came into contact with Trooper Bradley around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2020 due to a report of a tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder of Interstate 10 east of Benson. The truck’s hazard lights and engine were on, but the curtains of the cab were pulled shut, according to a statement of probable cause Bradley wrote in support of Speights’ arrest.

After knocking on the cab and sleeper for several minutes, a man later identified as Speights rolled down the window. There was no problem with the truck, he told Bradley. Instead, Speights was “resting.”

But the trooper quickly noticed Speights appeared to be in a confused state.

“I conversed with him and I asked him where he was coming from. He paused and was unable to tell me,” Bradley wrote. “I asked him where he was going and he also couldn’t answer until he looked at his bills of lading.”

The trooper had Speights exit the cab and sit in the patrol vehicle.  It was then that Bradley noticed Speights’ shirt smelled of burnt marijuana.  A partially burned marijuana cigarette was found in Speights’ pocket, as was a USB jump drive.

A short time later a check of Speights’ driver’s license alerted to the fact he was a registered sex offender from Los Angeles, California.

A quick inspection of the cab and sleeper unit revealed marijuana, THC-laced cookies and brownies, more than $10,000 in cash, and “a large quantity of computers, tablets, cellphones, hard drives, and USB drives,” Bradley wrote.  “There was also a large quantity of condoms and sex toys.”

The trooper placed Speights under arrest for the marijuana found in the vehicle. Bradley also used the computer in the patrol car to review the USB drive which had been in Speights’ pocket.

“After reading some of the files I realized they were possibly child pornography,” Bradley wrote. “I did not click on any of the files and called detectives.”

When the detective arrived, he was setting Speights’ cellphone to airplane mode when a sexually explicit video of a prepubescent boy suddenly began playing. An image of a different prepubescent male was set as the background display on another computer found in the sleeper area, Bradley noted.

Speights will have to register once again as a sex offender upon his release from prison. His 21-year prison sentence is not eligible for early release, according to the plea agreement.