Hundreds of thousands of people have signed an online petition supporting two Texas brothers jailed for fatally beating their stepfather, who they believed sexually abused their 9-year-old half-sister.
Alejandro Trevino, 18, and his 17-year-old brother, Christian Trevino, were arrested alongside their friend, Juan Eduardo Melendez, also 18, in connection with the death of Gabriel Quintanilla.
A farmer discovered his body in a field in McAllen on Jan. 20, not long after the brothers learned of the disturbing abuse allegations raised against their 42-year-old stepfather.
All three suspects were arrested on counts of aggravated assault and engaging in criminal activity. Christian Trevino and Melendez are also facing a count of capital murder.
The charges stem from a series of physical altercations, the first of which unfolded inside a trailer park in Pharr. The second occurred outside a nearby apartment complex, with Melendez joining in.
From left, Juan Melendez, Alejandro Trevino and Christian Trevino.
All three suspects left the scene, but later returned to find Quintanilla, injured and alone, walking on the sidewalk. Police said the group brutally beat him, put him in the bed of a Ford truck and then left him for dead in the field. Authorities believe he was still alive when the suspects abandoned him.
Since their arrests, a petition online demanding their release has netted more than 250,000 signatures. A second similar petition boasts another 30,000.
“We ask that the state of Texas to release these teenagers, who could possibly spend the rest of their life in prison for protecting their sister,” it reads.
All three teenagers are currently in custody and have their bonds set at $1 million dollars each. If convicted of capital murder, they face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment without parole.