A St. Paul man scheduled to be sentenced Friday for prostituting two underage girls intends to withdraw his guilty plea.
Brandon D. Barnes, 24, changed his mind Thursday evening, said his attorney, Rick Petry. Barnes entered an Alford plea in January of guilty to promoting prostitution. Such a plea does not admit guilt, just that the prosecution has a high probability of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“He believes that he’s innocent,” Petry said. “There’s certainly some indication here that he was duped by Mr. Baymon.”
According to charges in Ramsey County District Court, Barnes and Giorgio J. Baymon, 25, pimped two girls, 17 and 15, last year through a classified ad on the Backpage.com website. The men picked up one of the girls at school and drove her to an Eagan hotel with the second girl, a runaway.
The men threatened the girls with a gun, kept them at the hotel for several days and forced them to have sex with men, the charges said.
Barnes believed that he and Baymon were going to hang out with some girls in Eagan and did not know they were prostitutes, Petry said.
“Oftentimes, defendants will take an opportunity to mitigate their exposure,” pleading guilty even if they think they are innocent, Petry said.
Baymon pleaded guilty and is serving about 14 years in prison. A third man, Mickey Cupkie, 37, pleaded guilty to hiring an underage prostitute and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation. Each has to register as a sex offender.
Petry plans to file a motion to withdraw Barnes’ guilty plea. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 12.