Sentencing Delayed in Human Trafficking Case

The sentencing of Brannon Pitcher, convicted in January of human trafficking, was postponed on Friday after his defense attorney requested reduced charges and a new trial. The hearing was delayed to March 13 to allow the judge and the District Attorney’s Office time to review the motion.

Pitcher, 30 years old when he was arrested in 2013, was convicted of two counts of human trafficking of a minor in January, marking the first human trafficking jury trial to take place in Santa Barbara County. He faces 15 years to life behind bars for each count.

The motion for a new trial is based on defense attorney Christine Voss’s claim that prosecutor Von Nguyen engaged in “prejudicial misconduct” during the trial and that Pitcher is eligible for reduced charges based on previous case law. In the document, Voss argued that the indeterminate life sentence that Pitcher faces is “grossly disproportionate to the offense as committed.”

The allegations of prejudicial misconduct stem from Nguyen’s inclusion of the victim’s trafficking history in a statement to the jury against an earlier ruling. The motion alleges that the disclosure of the victim’s trafficking history may have caused the jury to speculate that Pitcher was involved in the sale of the victim into prostitution; he didn’t come into contact with the victim until a few years after she was sold into prostitution at the age of 13.

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