TEXARKANA, Texas–One of four men charged in a sex trafficking case in Bowie County has pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal that included 30 years in prison.
Marcus Lanell Palmer, 38, took the 30-year deal on Tuesday, less than a week after his brother, Brandon Everett Palmer, 40, was convicted by a jury of multiple felonies, including the continuous trafficking of persons, aggravated sexual assault acting in concert with Rashaan Cunningham, and prohibited substance in a correctional facility. He was sentenced to two life terms and one 80-year term, to be served concurrently.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told TXK Today that “the Department of Public Safety’s investigation into Rashaan Cunningham’s sex trafficking organization, ‘Adult Oriented Business’ or ‘A.O.B.’ revealed that Brandon Palmer and Marcus Palmer assisted Cunningham in targeting and exploiting vulnerable women by controlling them with drugs and using them as prostitutes.”
“With Marcus Palmer’s plea and the accompanying sentence in prison, the victims of these abusers and traffickers are able to avoid another lengthy and stressful jury trial,” Crisp said. “With his plea, Palmer waived any right to appeal the outcome of his case—meaning that for most of these women, their years-long nightmare has come to an end.
Earlier this month, Rashaan “Fashion” Cunningham, 46, pleaded guilty to continuous trafficking of persons and aggravated sexual assault acting in concert with Brandon Palmer, and received a 40-year prison sentence. Brandon Palmer and Cunningham drugged a woman, held her down and took turns sexually assaulting her.
The Palmer brothers and Cunningham worked together to prostitute women in the Texarkana region, while a fourth co-defendant, Ryan Allan Layne, 48, was an allegedly loyal customer who aided the men in their illicit business, according to court records.
Layne’s case is scheduled for trial next month before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell and he faces 25 to 99 years or life if convicted of continuous trafficking of persons. He is also charged with soliciting prostitution and is currently free on bonds totaling $95,000.
Marcus Palmer was represented by Texarkana lawyer Butch Dunbar at the hearing before Judge Tidwell on Tuesday at which he pleaded guilty to continuous trafficking of persons, the only charge he faced in the case.
A notice filed by Crisp ahead of Brandon Palmer’s trial said, “Brandon Palmer, Rashaan Cunningham and Marcus Palmer have reputations in the community and among law enforcement of being a very dangerous ‘pimp’ who uses violence and drugs (including heroin and fentanyl) to control prostitutes.”
“They use various means including social media, online prostitution ads and prostitution websites to locate customers,” the notice said. “Cunningham, Brandon Palmer and Marcus Palmer will distribute methamphetamine (and other drugs) to women so that they become addicted and will perform sexual acts, including engage in prostitution, in order to have access to more drugs to fuel their addictions.”
Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards represented the state.