Mortgage Daily

Published On: January 11, 2006
Broker Convicted of Homicide

Travis Branstetter sentencing scheduled for this week

January 11, 2006


A Florida mortgage broker is going to prison after a jury found him guilty of killing a man and seriously injuring his wife in a 2003 auto accident.Travis Branstetter, 22, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13, Eric Rosario, an assistant state attorney in Pasco County, Fla., told Branstetter, convicted last month after a three-day trial, faces up to 20 years in prison.

A father of two, Branstetter worked as a mortgage broker for a firm in Plant City, Fla., that prosecutors have not identified. He had refused the state’s plea bargain of three years in prison and instead took the case to trial.

The jury deliberated just about 90 minutes before returning its verdict, Rosario said.

Paul Firmani, the assistant public defender who represented Branstetter, did not return a phone call to comment.

On the afternoon of June 5, 2003, Branstetter crossed the yellow line and slammed his silver PT Cruiser head-on into a Toyota RAV4 driven by John Branciforte, 61, of New Port Richey. He was killed in the crash and his wife, Wanda Branciforte, 67, who was also in the car, suffered a broken pelvis, sternum and ribs and had to learn to walk again after the accident, Rosario said.

Branstetter was convicted of vehicular homicide and reckless driving that caused serious bodily injury, Rosario said.

Rosario told jurors that crash scene witnesses said Branstetter appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Emergency rescue workers at the scene of the accident did begin drawing blood from Branstetter to determine if was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

But the workers were called away to work another case and did not complete the test on Branstetter.

Branstetter’s lawyer tried to discredit the prosecution’s case, saying the investigation was incomplete and inconclusive and arguing that while his client erred in crossing the yellow line he was not under the influence, wasn’t speeding and wasn’t driving recklessly.

Rosario successfully countered with a witness who testified that Branstetter had been swerving on the road for up to 10 miles before the accident.

“I just told them,” Rosario said, “to focus on his driving. That was the key to the case.”

Patrick Crowley is a feature journalist and blogger, and a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer. e-mail Patrick at: [email protected]

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