NEW BOSTON, Texas–A Texarkana man who pimped, raped and drugged vulnerable women in Bowie County was sentenced Friday to two life sentences plus 80 years for sex trafficking, sexual assault and having contraband in the jail.
Brandon Everett Palmer, 40, was convicted Thursday by a jury of six men and six women on Thursday of continuous trafficking of persons, aggravated sexual assault and prohibited item in a correctional facility. Friday, the jury meted out a tough punishment after hearing additional testimony meant to aid them in settling on an appropriate sentence.
The jurors heard evidence of Brandon Palmer’s long history of arrests going back to 2002, including repeated arrests for family violence, assault, auto theft, drug possession, evading arrest and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Brandon Palmer received life sentences for trafficking and sexual assault and 80 years for having contraband in the Bowie County jail. The terms will run concurrently as a matter of law and 202nd District Judge John Tidwell did not have the option to stack the terms.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told TXK Today on Friday that “following a swift decision to convict Brandon Palmer on all charges, the jury heard punishment evidence that he has committed criminal offenses in Bowie County for the last two decades.”
“Palmer, along with Rashaan Cunningham, sexually abused multiple women and used drugs and violence to force them into prostitution,” Crisp said. “These convictions are the result of over two years of tireless work by the Texas Department of Public Safety, under the direction of lead Agent Briscoe Davis, conducting surveillance, interviewing witnesses, and gathering the evidence necessary to successfully prosecute these predators. We’re thankful for this effort by law enforcement and the punishment imposed by this jury to provide our county citizens safety from Brandon Palmer.”
A woman who was 13 when she met Brandon Palmer testified that she was a runaway who got a ride from a man who left her with Brandon Palmer. She said she was given a drink and lost consciousness after consuming it and that when she woke, she was being sexually assaulted by Brandon Palmer and a hypodermic needle was stuck in her neck.
One of Palmer’s co-defendants, Rashaan “Fashion” Cunningham, 46, pleaded guilty to continuous trafficking of persons earlier this month as part of a plea bargain that included 40 years.
Brandon Palmer, his brother Marcus Palmer, 38, and Cunningham are accused of working together to prostitute women in the Texarkana region, while Ryan Allan Layne, 48, was an allegedly loyal customer who aided the men in their illicit business, according to court records.
The men allegedly used threats, drugs and physical violence to control the women they sold. Marcus Palmer and Layne are both scheduled for trial next month for continuous trafficking of persons.
A notice filed by First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp ahead of the 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.”
If convicted of continuous trafficking of persons, Marcus Palmer and Layne face a sentence of 25 to 99 years or life in prison.
Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards represented the state. Brandon Palmer was represented by Texarkana lawyer Derric McFarland.
Update: This article has been updated to include comments from First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp.