A man suffering from a mental disorder was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old McAllen girl.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Brandon Galvez, 24, of Chalmette, Louisiana, to 240 months in prison — the mandatory minimum — during a hearing Monday afternoon.
“It’s a very serious offense,” Alvarez said. “I think that justifies this severe punishment here.”
Galvez met the 13-year-old girl on Snapchat in June 2020.
The McAllen Police Department investigating the case assigned the girl a pseudonym “Anna” to protect her privacy.
“Anna stated that after she accepted Brandon’s friend request, Brandon immediately asked her if she would be his girlfriend,” according to the McAllen Municipal Court records summarizing the investigation. “Anna said she told Brandon she was 13 years old.”
During an interview with investigators, Anna said Galvez claimed he was 17 years old. However, Galvez was actually 21 years old.
According to court records, Anna agreed to run away with Galvez and left a handwritten note for her family.
On June 21, less than 10 days after they spoke, Galvez convinced a friend to drive him from Louisiana to McAllen, where they picked up Anna. Galvez sexually assaulted Anna in the back seat of the car.
Border guards arrested Galvez and his friend Jose Antonio Ramos-Serrano at the Falfurrias checkpoint.
Galvez suffers from a “mental disorder,” according to a December 2020 filing by his Brownsville attorney, Lee “Kenny” Perez. The US Social Security Administration began paying disability benefits to Galvez at age 8.
The filing did not name the mental disorder or provide details about the condition. Perez said he doesn’t think Galvez received a more accurate diagnosis.
“At this time, Brandon Galvez is unable to understand the nature and implications of the proceedings against him,” the filing reads, “and is not adequately assisting in his defense.”
A psychologist who evaluated Galvez said the results of a court-ordered competency test were inconclusive. As a result, Alvarez had to make the decision himself.
Galvez may not belong to the “higher end” of the intelligence field, Alvarez said in September 2021 when the court held a competency hearing, but he did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that rendered him unfit to stand trial.
After the court found him competent, Galvez pleaded guilty to kidnapping. Ramos-Serrano, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in a criminal sexual act.
Galvez returned to court in a white T-shirt and blue surgical mask for sentencing on Monday.
In a voice barely audible from the gallery, Galvez apologized. He did not provide any further information during the brief hearing.
Perez, the attorney representing Galvez, asked the court to consider a relegation. Alvarez reminded Perez of the mandatory minimum.
Assistant US Attorney Michael L. Mitchell, who was prosecuting the case, requested a sentence of between 240 and 262 months.
“This is a very serious crime,” Mitchell said, adding that the government believes the mandatory minimum is reasonable.
Mitchell said the girl and her family decided not to attend the hearing or seek compensation because they didn’t want to be anywhere near Galvez.
While he was taking responsibility in court, Galvez and his mother also wrote letters to Alvarez.
In her letter, Galvez’s mother indicated that her son and not the 13-year-old girl was the victim, Alvarez said, and suggested he should receive a light sentence.
However, Galvez misrepresented his age, Alvarez said, showing he intended to deceive her.
“And that worries the court very much,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez sentenced Galvez to 20 years in prison followed by five years of supervised imprisonment. Galvez must also register as a sex offender, avoid contact with the girl, and stay away from children other than his own.
Galvez’s parents are good people, Perez said, and he comes from a great family.
“It’s just unfortunate that he did what he did,” said Perez.