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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

Nigeria State Says Rapists Will Face Surgical Castration, Death Penalty

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Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said the drastic penalties are required to help further protect children from serious crime. (Twitter/@elrufai)

The Governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state signed and executed a law that states, men charged with rape will face surgical castration, and anyone who rapes a child under age 14 will face the death penalty.

What We Know:

  • Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, stated these drastic measures are to protect children from serious crimes. Its not only men who will be facing heavy punishment, but any women charged of raping children may also be punished with bilateral salpingectomy, or the removal of their fallopian tubes, and death.

  • The former law had a maximum penalty of 21 years incarceration for the rape of an adult and life incarceration for the rape of a child.
  • Related cases of rape in Nigeria have sky-rocketed significantly during the months of coronavirus limitations, urging the state’s governors to declare a state of emergency. Women’s groups have called for stricter measures, including the death penalty.
  • Kaduna state’s new law is the strictest against rape in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
  • This new law comes two days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed surgical castration as punishment due to the violent gang rape to a woman who ran out of gas on a lonely highway in the country’s Punjab province.
  • Here in the United States, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill ordering “chemical castration” last year as a punishment for convicted child molesters as a circumstance of parole. The law would require sex offenders whose crimes have to do with children under 13 to simply receive medication meant to lower their testosterone levels and sex drive.
  • Seven other U.S. states have such penalties on the books, but it is seemingly rarely used and is highly controversial.

Maybe other states will follow in Nigeria’s shoes and see that leading by example can make a difference and save our children!

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Lawmakers Introduce Senate Bill Making Attacks on Police Officers a Federal Crime

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Thom Tillis (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Several U.S. senators have presented the “Protect and Serve Act”, legislation that would create federal penalties for those who purposely target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.

What We Know:

  • The Protect and Serve Act was presented on Thursday by Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

  • This bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury to an officer, with up to 10 years in prison for convictions. If the crime committed includes murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, or attempted kidnapping, the felon could receive a life sentence.
  • Senator Tillis mentioned police officers in North Carolina and across the country risk their lives every day to keep communities safe. The rise of these insensible acts of violence towards law enforcement officers, and causing injury or loss of life, is entirely unacceptable.
  • Senator Tillis also states he is committed to supporting the men and women who took an oath to protect us. This is why he introduces this bill that will create federal penalties for felons who attack police officers. Making reference to Sheriff Deputy from North Carolina Ryan Hendrix and officers in Los Angeles, hence its time to pass such a bill, letting criminals know the acts of violence are unacceptable, and there is no escape from justice.
  • The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by multiple law enforcement associations, including the Fraternal Order of Police and Major County Sheriffs of America.
  • Tillis said the Protect and Serve Act would face this problem by giving federal prosecutors the instruments needed to hold those responsible who target law enforcement for assault and attacks.
  • This law would pertain to federal law enforcement officers and would also pertain to state and local officers in situations where the federal government may establish jurisdiction over the case.

The proposed bill passed the House by a vote of 382 to 35 with support from both parties.

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Eric Trump to Comply with New York AG’s Subpoena Only after Election Day

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Eric Trump. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)
Eric Trump. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

The president’s son, Eric Trump, has come out and said he will finally be willing to comply with a subpoena from the New York Attorney General’s office’s probe of the Trump Organization issued by Attorney General Letitia James. The only condition is that it would have to be done after the U.S general election.

What We Know:

  • According to a Thursday court filing, the chosen timeframe after the upcoming presidential election aims to avoid “any appearance of politicizing” the process. Eric Trump’s attorneys also explained that he is willing to appear and gave several dates to proceed after the Nov. 3rd election. They noted that one of the main reasons was simply because of Eric Trump’s “extreme travel schedule and related unavailability”.

“In this regard, we note that the OAG investigation has been ongoing for approximately 18 months and that additional examinations are scheduled in October 2020 for certain other individuals,” stated the filing.

  • To confirm Eric’s claims, the filing elaborated how “given all the circumstances and the fact that counsel’s requested dates are, for all practical purposes, just 30 days after other scheduled depositions, and given the importance of avoiding any appearance of politicizing the investigatory process”.
  • Just last month, James reportedly urged a judge to force Eric Trump, along with the Trump Organization, to comply with subpoenas in an effort to carry on with the office’s investigation of President Trump. A related investigation is looking into alleged illegal inflation of his assets to reap loans and appeal to investors. “No one is above the law, period,” responded James to the Thursday filing.

  • That same month, James also accused Eric Trump of refusing to comply with a subpoena for his testimony. According to NBC News, she alleged that the Trump Organization and its lawyers were setting a motion that would “shield thousands of documents from investigators”.
  • The attorney general went on to say in a statement that “we cannot comment on the particular steps we’re taking on specific litigation,” but she made it clear that they wouldn’t allow any outside force control have the investigation moves forward or allow anyone to “evade a lawful subpoena”.

The related investigation opened by the New York attorney general last year followed President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who testified to Congress that the president tampered with financial statements in order to benefit from better insurance rates, loans, and tax breaks.

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