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Zephi Trevino, a Victim of Child Trafficking, Charged With Capital Murder

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A Texas teenager faces capital murder charges however, her parents say she is the victim, not the suspect.

What we Know:

  • Zephaniah “Zephi” Trevino, a junior from Grand Prairie High School, has been in custody for a year at the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center without bond. She and two other men, Phillip Baldenegro (19) and Jesse Martinez (20), are charged with capital murder and face 40 years for a May 2019 robbery resulting in one injury and one murder. Each is awaiting trial. According to his attorney, Baldenegro was released from jail on a reduced bond this past Tuesday. Martinez is being held at the Dallas County Jail on a $1 million bond.
  • Her parents claim she is the victim of sex trafficking and should be released. They have hired national civil rights and criminal defense attorney, Justin A. Moore, and Dallas based criminal defense attorney Ashkan Mehryari as her attorneys.
  • Baldenegro’s attorney, David Finn, claims that his client never sold Trevino for sex and that it was Trevino that set up the robbery that happened on the night in question. Finn maintains that Baldenegro and Trevino were in a romantic relationship and Trevino was at the apartment to have sex with two adult men.
  • Both Trevino’s and Baldenegro’s attorneys agree that Baldenegro shot and killed the 24-year-old victim and Trevino was present during the act.
  • The then 16-year-old played soccer, volleyball, and softball had just made the drill team and was involved in her church. Her mother, Crystal Trevino, says that all stopped when she started hanging out with the wrong people.
  • According to her parents, when Trevino was 15, she had a boyfriend that introduced her to drugs and abused her. When the two broke up, Trevino “never fully recovered from the trauma.” Her mother says she became anxious and depressed, faced self-esteem issues, and even ran away at times.
  • Trevino was approached by Baldenegro on social media. She introduced him to her parents as a friend. Baldenegro told her parents that he was 17 and knew her from school. They later found out that was actually 18 at the time and did not attend Trevino’s high school at all.
  • In the beginning of their association together, Trevino’s parents saw no signs of trouble from Baldenegro. After some time, the situation shifted. According to Trevino’s parents, it started with her coming home late and quickly escalated to Trevino not coming home for days at a time and returning in foreign clothes, apparently drugged, and starved. There were times that Trevino would randomly call and warn her family to lock all the doors and make sure the house was secure, her parents believe these were her attempts to protect her family from threats made by Baldenegro.
  • On August 4, 2019, Trevino told her parents she was going to the mall with friends. After hours of not hearing from her and not being able to track her phone, Trevino came home and went straight to bed, waking up near noon the next day to cry on her mothers shoulder.
  • That night Trevino didn’t go to the mall, she actually went with Baldenegro and Martinez to a Grand Prairie apartment. The three lured two men to the apartment with Trevino’s help, according to police, and ambushed and robbed them. An altercation with the two adults resulted in Baldenegro shooting both men, injuring one and killing the other.
  • The Trevino family maintains that Baldenegro and Martinez forced Trevino to lure the men into the room with sex.
  • The family is receiving support from Jason Flom, a founding board member of The Innocence Project who has worked in criminal justice advocacy for over 25 years, and Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit that assists victims of sex trafficking and abuse. Faith In Texas, a grassroots social justice organization, will also be assisting in advocating for Trevino’s parents. Kim Kardashian West has taken to Twitter to advocate for the case as well.

  • Many professionals that assist victims of sexual trafficking, and recovered victims of trafficking alike, have stepped up to speak out on Trevino’s behalf. They have given examples of similar cases of a “relationship gone bad” that turned out to be, in fact, sex trafficking. They call the assailant a “romeo pimp” – someone that appears to care for their victim romantically but slowly transitions them to be sexually exploited by other people.
  • Even though minors that are sexually exploited for financial gain are considered victims by federal law, the state of Texas is one of the few states that does not have a statute of protection for sex trafficking victims that may face charges on a crime committed while they were being trafficked.
  • Regardless of the claims of Trevino, her family, her attorneys, former victims, and professionals, the District Attorney, John Creuzot, is still pursuing capital murder and aggravated battery charges.
  • According to her father, Henry Trevino, she has not received any counseling even though she reported herself as a victim of trafficking. Under Texas’ Trafficked Persons Program statute, this should not be the case.

The family has been raising money to aid in legal fees. To donate, visit here.

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Crime

Mother of Florida Teen Who Was Shot and Killed By Sheriff’s Deputy Gets Shot at His Burial Service

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Courtesy of abcNews

Quesheda Pierce (39) was shot in the leg on Saturday by a single gunshot at the burial service of her son Sincere Pierce.

What We Know:

  • Her son, Sincere, was one of two Black teens that were fatally shot by a Brevard County deputy during an attempted traffic stop on November 13. Friends and family gathered on Saturday at Riverview Memorial Gardens Cemetery to pay their final moments of respect.
  • As the Pastor was finishing his remarks and attendees placed flowers on Sincere’s casket, a single shot was fired and Florida Today reported that Ms. Pierce was heard yelling.
  • According to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the gun that shot Ms. Pierce was an “accidental discharge” of a concealed weapon.
  • In a statement to NBC News, sheriff’s spokesperson Tod Goodyear stated, “Initial reports were that a male and female received non-life-threatening injuries when shot during a funeral service”. He continued, “The female victim is identified as 39-year-old Quasheda Pierce.”
  • Officials have not released the name of the 16-year-old male suspected of firing the shot and he is not cooperating with law enforcement.
  • Goodyear stated:

“The investigation to date, which includes witness testimony and physical evidence, has determined that the single shot allegedly originated from the 16-year-old who apparently experienced an accidental discharge from a firearm concealed on his person during the funeral service.”

  • The 16-year-old was injured as well. Goodyear explained the bullet “penetrated and exited his leg prior to impacting Quasheda Pierce’s leg”.

Goodyear also mentioned that multiple calls were made to sheriff dispatchers reporting that a male and female were injured during the funeral service.

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28-Year-Old Identified After Being Found Dead in Car Trunk Following Police Chase

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The 28-year-old woman who was found dead in a car trunk in Texas has been identified as Briana Johnson. Victor Campbell, the driver, has been arrested and currently sits behind bars at the Jefferson County Jail.

What We Know:

  • The body of a 28-year-old woman was found in the trunk of a car after it crashed during a police chase in Texas, authorities said. Victor Cambell was pulled over by police officers around 8 am on Saturday. He didn’t stop, which led to a car chase until he later crashed.
  • According to the NY Post, the police first spotted the vehicle speeding around 7:45 a.m. and pulled it over in Beaumont, about 85 miles east of Houston. But the driver, Victor Campbell Jr., allegedly zoomed off, leading the troopers on a chase that ended when he crashed near the parking lot of a church thrift shop.
  • Campbell, who’s previously been charged with family violence, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries following the crash and later booked into Jefferson County jail. The 35-year-old now faces charges for felony evading arrest, driving while intoxicated, tampering with evidence, and abusing a corpse. Additional charges may be added, police said. A cause of death hasn’t been released yet, but an autopsy has been ordered.
  • On Sunday, several Houston police officers searched a home in the area that is believed to be connected to her death, based on the evidence found at the crime scene in Beaumont. The investigation is still ongoing. The family of Johnson has set up a GoFundMe account to go toward funeral expenses. Her hometown is in Fresno, California, and her family is hoping and wanting to take her body back there.
  • Some of her friends spoke out about her sudden and mysterious death. Former classmate Tiffany Goodman spoke with 12 News, remembering Johnson. “It just doesn’t seem that this type of incident would happen to her. To be found in a trunk of a car, it was just so heartbreaking”. The two of them attended college together at TSU in Houston and crossed paths multiple times. She described Johnson as a person with confidence that cared deeply for others.

Her loss deeply saddens her family and friends. This is a developing story, and more news is to come.

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Bay Area Rapper Lil Yase Shot and Killed at 25, Community Seeks Answers

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San Francisco rapper, Lil Yase (Alexander Antonnyo Jr.) was shot and killed over the weekend.

What We Know:

  • Early Saturday morning officers received reports of a male at ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton suffering from several gunshot wounds. They later identified the man as Bay Area artist Lil Yase. An ambulance transferred him to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley where he sadly passed away. Police believe the shooting took place about a block away from the East Dublin BART station.
  • While there are currently no suspects in custody, an investigation into Lil Yase’s murder continues. Dublin Police Captain Nate Schmidt says investigators “do have some leads” seeing as he was able to give Pleasonton police a bit of information before he died.
  • Justin Miranda was the business partner of Lil Yase at their independent record label 420 Highway Productions. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Miranda, along with many others, is stunned by his death. He said, “We don’t have any idea why he was out there. It was not an area…where he knew anybody. He didn’t have enemies or rap beefs. He wasn’t in a gang. He transcended all of that.” Miranda shared that a lot of the rapper’s lyrics were fiction. The violence he rapped about was mainly from what he saw growing up, and not who he truly was.
  • Lil Yase grew up in the Sunnydale housing projects. Larry Jones has been a youth counselor and staple in the community for a long time. He says he always knew when something violent in the neighborhood was about to happen because Lil Yase would find safety in the community center. “He would go hang out in the computer lab by himself. That is when we knew something was brewing,” Jones said.
  • Back in September of this year, Lil Yase released an EP with another Bay Area rapper named Nemz. He grew a following back in 2015 from his hit song “Get In” and has since received hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube for other tracks like “No Diss”, “Demon”, and “Streets’ Freestyle”. Lil Yase has also collaborated with a number of other popular rappers (and rap groups) such as Shoreline Mafia,  IamSu!, G-Val, Yatta, and Cash Kidd. Jones suspects his association with other rappers may have possibly landed a target on his back.

Miranda said Lil Yase only desired to focus on his music and the label. He constantly uplifted other rappers and spent most of his days in the studio. Along with the many other artists taken from us too soon this year, he will be missed.

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