Zephi Trevino – Sex Trafficking Victim or Accessory to Murder?

 In Domestic

Grand Prairie, Texas: Zephi Trevino, has been in jail for a year at the Henry Wade Justice Center, charged with capital murder. Her parents state that she is the victim of sex trafficking and should be released. The attorney for her boyfriend says she was a willing participant. Let’s tell the story as we know it, and let you decide.

May, 2019

Zephi Trevino’s boyfriend, Philip Baldenegro, 18, and another man, Jesse Martinez, 19, were at an apartment in Grand Prairie with Zephi. Baldenegro and Martinez cooked up a plan to lure two men to the apartment to have sex with Zephi so they could ambush and rob them. Police say that Zephi helped with the plan, which made her an accessory.

When the two men arrived, Baldenegro shot them, killing one and wounding the other.  He has admitted to the shooting.  The contention comes in as to whether Zephi Trevino lured them willingly, or was threatened with harm if she didn’t comply.

The attorney for Baldenegro, David Finn, stated,

“She is no victim. My client Philip Baldenegro is 19 and I think she was 16 at the time. They had a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship that is born out on my client’s cellphone.”

Newsflash, Finn, just because there is a “boyfriend-girlfriend” relationship, does not mean it can’t be abusive or threatening.

zephi trevino

Screenshot via WFAA

Trevino’s parents say that she was threatened with harm to her and her family if she didn’t comply. The parents said the men introduced her to drugs as well. That is the crux of the charges – was she abused and intimidated or did she willingly help? It’s a fact that young girls are often easily led into circumstances that are out of their control. The search for “love” is strong at that age, but falling in with a bad group of folks can happen to children at any time.

Based solely on the word of her mother, it appears she may not have been a willing participant:

CBS 19 reported,  

It wasn’t until May 2019 when Crystal realized what was going on with her daughter. At the time, Zephi was 16.

Crystal Trevino calls her daughter a sex trafficking victim and says it can happen to any young, impressionable girl. 

She says she even had safeguards for Zephi, including a phone tracker.

“We had things in place that we thought would protect her from a lot of things but it turned into my worst nightmare,” said Crystal.

One evening her mother couldn’t reach her, hours after Zephi said she was going to the mall with friends.

“I kept texting her. ‘Where are you? Come home.’ She just kind of went off the map and we didn’t hear back from her,” said Crystal.

Crystal says when her daughter got home that night Zephi seemed out of it, like she had been drugged, and went straight to bed.

“She woke up probably about 11:30-ish in the evening and crawled up next to me and did not move and cried,” said Crystal.

Because Zephi was a juvenile when the murder occurred, the prosecutor is prevented from talking about the case. Though she was offered a plea deal of 10 years, she declined.

Her parents searched for an attorney that would take the case and found Civil Rights attorney Justin Moore. He put them in touch with the head of the Innocence Project,  Jason Flom, who has helped many who were wrongly accused.

The case has garnered the attention of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West, who advocated a petition at change.org to free her. The parents have also set up a legal defense fund at Directlyto (note- the Directlyto page says none of the others were charged. That is incorrect – all three were charged with capital murder.)

Featured photo: Screenshot via wfaa

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