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More than 242,000 people have signed a petition asking for the release of two teen brothers and their friend after the trio allegedly killed the siblings’ stepfather to protect and avenge their young sister in Texas.
Brothers Christian Trevino, 17, and Alejandro Trevino, 18, along with pal Juan Eduardo Melendez, 18, were arrested and charged on Sunday with last week's beating death of Gabriel Quintanilla, 42, in Pharr, Texas.
Police say the brothers were angered after their 9-year-old half-sister alleged that Quintanilla sexually abused her.
“When brothers Alejandro and Christian Trevino found out, they became enraged and confronted Gabriel Quintanilla at the residence," a press release from the Pharr Police Department has stated. "A physical fight ensued between the three and the victim, Quintanilla, left the location on foot."
The trio then allegedly chased the stepfather on foot before beating him again. They eventually left, but returned for a third beating, according to police; Quintanilla was then left in a field.
At the time of his death, Quintanilla was already wanted on charges of continuous sexual assault of a child and assault for a case involving another child, the Monitor reported.
A Change.org petition seeking the release of the three teens has more than 242,300 signatures as of Friday morning.
“We ask that the state of Texas release these teenagers, who could possibly spend the rest of their life in prison for protecting their sister,” the petition states.
One of the comments on the petition, which has received over 800 likes, reads “the system failed this little girl, and these young kids did what the law fail to do so. They are innocent. Let's free them.”
Melendez and Christian Trevino have both been charged with aggravated assault, capital murder and engaging in criminal activity. If convicted of capital murder, they will both face a minimum of life in prison without parole. Alejandro Trevino has been charged with aggravated assault and engaging in organized criminal activity.
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