WATCH: Chicago man convicted in teen's sex trafficking death
Joseph Hazley, 35, was convicted in March on one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor, one count of sex trafficking of a minor, and four counts of transporting a person across state lines for the purposes of prostitution.
Hazley was accused of posting sex ads online and arranging a meeting with 16-year-old Desiree Robinson. He later found her beaten, stabbed and strangled in a garage in south suburban Markham in December 2016.
Evidence at trial revealed that Hazley posted Robinson's information in commercial sex advertisements on Backpage.com, and arranged multiple meetings for her to engage in prostitution. Hazley drove Robinson to several meetings in the Chicago area in December 2016.
One of the meetings occurred in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, after a customer had responded to Hazley's posting. Hazley drove Robinson to Markham and waited in his car a few yards from the garage while she met with the customer. During the encounter, the customer allegedly murdered Robinson.
In 2018, Hazley's co-defendant, Charles McFee, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor.
The alleged customer, Antonio Rosales, was arrested by the Chicago Police Department and charged with murder in Cook County Criminal Court. He has not yet gone to trial and is due in court later this month for a status hearing.
"Desiree did not deserve this but everyone who was responsible will be held accountable for my daughter's death," said Yvonne Ambrose, Desiree's mother.
Ambrose made an emotional statement to the court on Tuesday, remembering her daughter as a good athlete and student with ambitious goals in life. She said Hazley preyed on Desiree and sold her like a piece of clothing.
In his own statement, Hazley told the court he had no control over what happened to Desiree, and "I am truly sorry for the loss to the Robinson family."
Hazley's family was in court as Judge Sharon Coleman sentenced him to 32 years.
"They are saddened, resigned and looking forward to his appeal," said Raymond Wigell, Hazley's attorney.
Since her daughter's murder, Ambrose has worked to shut down the sex trafficking business, even visiting the White House to lobby for tougher laws. Her family is now suing the operators of Backpage.com, which has since been shut down.
"We cannot forget, if it wasn't for Backpage, Desiree would still be here with her mom. People like Hazley would never have the chance to exploit children online," said Gina DuBoni, the family's civil attorney.
A hearing on the family's lawsuit against Backpage.com is the end of the month.