This article appeared in the Aug. 12 issue of the Progress Times.
A man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old McAllen girl pleaded guilty last week.
Brandon Galvez, 23, of Chalmette, Louisiana, met the girl on Snapchat in June 2020, according to McAllen Municipal Court records. Less than two weeks after they started talking, Galvez traveled to McAllen, kidnapped the girl and sexually assaulted her.
Galvez pleaded guilty to a federal kidnapping charge during a hearing last week. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop two other charges against him.
“Ultimately, Mr. Galvez was stopped by Border Patrol agents at the Falfurrias checkpoint,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Mitchell said on Aug. 4, when he read the factual basis for the plea aloud in court. “But had intended to complete his return trip to Louisiana with Minor Victim #1.”
According to his attorneys, Galvez suffers from a “mental disorder” and receives disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration.
“Undersigned counsel has interviewed Defendant and Defendants immediate family and has reason to believe that Defendant does not possess the mental capacity to proceed with this case,” according to a motion filed by his attorneys in December 2020. “Specifically, counsel is unable to communicate with Defendant regarding the pertinent facts of the case and has serious doubts as to Defendants ability to understand the nature of the proceedings and stand trial.”
The government sent Galvez to a psychologist for a competency exam, but the results were inconclusive.
After reviewing the results, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez determined that Galvez doesn’t suffer from a mental disease or defect that makes him incompetent to stand trial.
Galvez returned to court on Aug. 4 to plead guilty.
“Do you wish to give up those rights associated with a plea of not guilty by entering a plea of guilty?” asked U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez. “In other words, do you want to plead guilty and give up the right to have a jury trial, to have all the witnesses presented and the right to remain silent?”
The question appeared to stump Galvez.
“To be honest, I don’t know what I should do,” Galvez said.
His attorney, Carol Sanchez of Brownsville, told Galvez he needed to plead guilty or proceed to trial.
“You have to make a choice,” Sanchez said.
Galvez said he wanted to speak with his family before making a decision. Alvarez denied his request.
Sanchez recommended that Galvez accept the plea agreement. Galvez asked her about the possibility a jury would find him not guilty.
“My honest opinion is they will not,” Sanchez said. “Not with the evidence I’ve presented to you.”
Galvez, though, said he didn’t take the girl by force.
Sanchez reminded Galvez that because the girl was just 13 years old, he couldn’t take her anywhere without parental consent.
Galvez also said he didn’t deserve 20 years in federal prison, the minimum sentence for kidnapping.
“Here’s the thing, Mr. Galvez. You can’t just indefinitely postpone this. At some point in time you’ve got to make a choice,” Alvarez said. “And today is the day you’ve got to make a choice.”
After a long break and a lengthy conversation with his attorney, Galvez decided to plead guilty.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21.