Brannon Pitcher was sentenced to 38 years to life in prison Friday after being found guilty of trafficking a 16-year-old girl in Santa Barbara. Pitcher was originally expected to get 15 years to life, but due to a prior felony strike stemming from a 2002 incident in which Pitcher brandished a loaded gun, his sentence was automatically doubled. The additional eight years are a result of Pitcher’s violation of a court order prohibiting him from speaking to the victim; he contacted her more than 70 times while he was in jail asking her to continue to prostitute herself.
Pitcher, 31, was arrested in August 2013 while trying to jump out of a second-story window at the Ala Mar Hotel on Cabrillo Boulevard after the FBI had conducted a sting operation that led law enforcement to the victim, said prosecutor Von Nguyen. He first met the victim in May 2013, and he began forcing her to prostitute in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., before he brought her to California. A Bay Area native, Pitcher believed it would be a more profitable area.
Pitcher’s sentencing was originally scheduled to take place last week but was delayed due to a motion filed by his defense attorney, Christine Voss, requesting a new trial. Voss argued for a lighter sentence and claimed prejudicial misconduct by the prosecution. Judge Brian Hill, who said Pitcher’s sentence is “commensurate” with his actions, denied the motion.
While the victim’s attorney, J’Aimee Oxton, read a statement on behalf of the victim, she was interrupted by a barrage of profanity coming from Pitcher seated at the table in front of her. He laughed as Oxton began to read the victim’s history of an unstable home environment and banged on the table so that Oxton was nearly inaudible. Hill subsequently ordered Pitcher removed from the courtroom.
In the statement, the victim acknowledged she was “vulnerable.” Her mother was a prostitute, and her father was her mother’s pimp. She was sold into prostitution at age 13. She explained that when she met Pitcher in May 2013, he made her believe that he was the only person who loved her, and she was afraid to leave him. Despite initially carrying guilt after Pitcher’s arrest, she acknowledged the damage that Pitcher had caused her. “I can’t let anyone in my life because I am afraid they will judge me if I tell the truth,” she said in her statement.
“I hope this case makes people realize [sex trafficking] is happening here, in our county, in our own backyards,” Nguyen said after Friday’s hearing. Oxton also expressed disappointment at the reality of human trafficking. She stated, “One of the most challenging parts of this case is that the victims are so vulnerable — they come from broken homes, similar backgrounds — and they’re conditioned to believe that they’re responsible.”
Voss noted that the case represents “really sad circumstances because both [Jane Doe] and Brannon Pitcher come from damaged backgrounds.” She filed a notice of appeal Friday afternoon.
According to Oxton, the victim is taking things “one day at a time” and is in the process of “building a support system and meeting new people who want her to be good, happy, and healthy.” She is looking forward to completing her high school education and obtaining her GED, Oxton said.