Zephaniah Trevino, 17, is currently in custody at a Dallas juvenile detention center, as she's charged with capital murder for the shooting of a man in 2019.
However, her parents insist that the teenager is herself a victim who simply fell in with the wrong crowd — and that she was actually being sex trafficked by one of the other individuals who was also charged in the killing.
Untangling the complicated case: Trevino, along with two others, allegedly shot and killed Carlos Arajeni-Arriaza Morillo, 24, in a Texas apartment last August. One of the others charged with Trevino was 19-year-old Philip Baldenegro, who has admitted to the murder, reportedly part of a robbery attempt.
According to Baldenegro's attorney, Baldenegro and Trevino, who were 16 and 18 when the crime occurred, were in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship at the time, and conspired to lure Morillo to the apartment to rob him.
Trevino's family, though, say this is a lie and that Baldenegro was acting as a pimp, forcing Trevino to have sex with men for money, and that Morillo had been enlisted to the death site for that purpose.
Trevino's mom, Crystal, told local news her daughter had been a good community member involved in sports and church, and that they were dismayed to begin realizing she was hanging out with questionable types. Although she'd placed a tracker on her daughter's phone, she would lose communication with her child for hours. At least one time, her mother suspected she had been drugged, due to her behavior upon arriving home.
“She was lured and manipulated to do things that were not in her path in life to do. And this is a child we’re talking about,” Crystal Trevino asserted. She says her daughter was threatened by Baldenegro not to tell her family what was going on.
“And the thought of your child with men. That’s a mother’s worst nightmare,” the distraught mother said.
Baldenegro's attorney denies the sex trafficking accusations strongly, saying that Trevino was the one who came up with the idea to lure Morillo (as well as one other man, who was injured in the shooting) to the apartment. He says Baldenegro has cell phone records to prove it.
In the meantime, Baldenegro is free on bond, while Trevino has spent a year in detention. She faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Her case, as well as a petition demanding justice for her sake, has caught the attention of many, including Kim Kardashian, who tweeted her support in July and asked fans to consider signing the petition in pursuit of Trevino's innocence.