Army veteran sentenced to two 99-year terms in child sex trafficking trial

Clyde Vanterpool. (Jail photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A 54th District Court jury sentenced Clyde Alexis Vanterpool, 60, a 38-year Army veteran, to serve two 99-year prison terms just hours after the same panel found him guilty of two counts of trafficking of persons younger than 18 years old.

Judge David Hodges ordered the terms served consecutively in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division, meaning he’ll have to discharge one sentence before he begins serving the second, a spokesman for the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office said.

The jury decided Vanterpool intentionally enticed two teenage boys, who at the time were living at the Waco Center for Youth but ran away, to drink and have sex with him.

The state and defense both closed their cases Thursday morning, after which the jury was charged and sent to deliberate at about midday, Tom Needham, Executive Assistant District Attorney, said.

Immediately after the verdict was announced the jury heard testimony in the punishment phase of the trial and before 5 p.m. had retired to deliberate Vanterpool’s sentence.

Vanterpool was indicted in October 2016 on two counts of trafficking persons and three counts of sexual assault of a child, but prosecutors dropped the three counts of sexual assault in deference to the trafficking charges.

Prosecutors opened their case Tuesday with witnesses from the Waco Center for Youth where the two teenagers were living when they ran away and eventually were sexually assaulted.

Two employees testified they knew the boys, were aware they had run away and provided timelines of what happened and when.

Judge David Hodges unexpectedly was called to the courthouse at mid-day Wednesday after Judge Matt Johnson learned from his doctor that he has the flu and he was told not go back to work.

A U.S. Marshals Service task force arrested Vanterpool in June 2016 after two boys, who had run away in December 2015 from the center, reported to police they were picked up in Cameron Park and then were taken to a private home in the 5600 block of Hawthorne Drive, where they had sex with a man.

They told police they went with the man because he offered to buy them a carton of cigarettes, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said during the initial investigation.

Swanton said once the boys were inside the car, Vanterpool convinced them to go to his house, where he got the teens drunk and then took sexual advantage of both of them.

Both boys passed out, but when they regained consciousness, they asked the man to take them back to the park, which he did, Swanton said.

“This case could have ended up much more serious if the suspect had decided the boys could identify him so instead of taking them back to the park he could have killed them,” Swanton said.

"This is one of those cases where the detectives absolutely want to get those charges right. They wanted the facts right. They wanted to have everything exact so when we present our case to the DA is the best product that we can present,” he said.