Who is Zephaniah Trevino? Jamie Lee Curtis and Kim Kardashian back 16-yr-old sex trafficking victim accused of murder
'Her life drastically changed when she was introduced to drugs by an abusive boyfriend,' Zephaniah's parents Henry and Crystal said
A shocking petition on #JusticeForZephaniahTrevino surfaced about a 16-year-old Latinx girl who has been accused of aggravated robbery and capital murder. With over 1,13,396 signatures, the cause seems to have come into limelight and caught much attention on social media.
From Kim Kardashian to Jamie Lee Curtis, many Hollywood figures have come to support the young girl — who is one of three accused of killing 24-year-old Carlos Arajeni-Arriaza Morillo last year. Reportedly, she did not pull the trigger but is being accused of a robbery that went wrong. Amid the scandal, the one question on everyone's minds is: Who is Zephaniah "Zephi" Trevino?
Who is Zephaniah 'Zephi' Trevino?
The 16-year-old girl is a junior in high school and was raised by parents Henry and Crystal Trevino in a faith-based home situated in Grand Prairie, Texas. Surrounded by a loving family, she is the youngest of four siblings, according to a defense fund organized by her parents. Her parents say, "Before meeting this tragic circumstance, she was outgoing and involved with many activities such as her church worship team, select fastpitch softball, and had recently made the drill team at her high school. Everyone who had met our daughter could feel the impact of her loving and caring personality. She loves hard and feels deeply."
In a letter for their daughter, Henry and Crystal also said, "We are having to gather funds to pay for a legal defense to fight on our daughter’s behalf. She has been victimized by sex trafficking and is now being charged for a crime that she did not commit. The person who committed the crime is the same person who was victimizing our daughter with physical threats. Please consider helping us raise a legal defense that will fight for her life."
What is the sex trafficking scandal?
What really happened that embroiled her in a sex trafficking scandal? "Her life drastically changed when she was introduced to drugs by an abusive boyfriend," Henry and Crystal said. "Her life spiraled fast, she began to change mentally and physically and ran away often. In May 2019, she met an adult who began grooming her for sex trafficking through coercion by using physical threats, threats of death against her family and drugs."
"Zephi had been forced, a number of times, to participate in sexual acts with adults by her trafficker. Ultimately, this cycle of abuse ended with her trafficker killing a man that Zephi was being forced to perform sexual acts with. She has been in the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice facility since last fall awaiting trial even though the District Attorney’s office was made aware that Zephi was forced to perform sexual acts on adults due to threats of harm by her trafficker if she tried to leave him. The public defender assigned to Zephi’s case is pushing her to take a plea deal with a long sentence rather than defending her at trial. However, our daughter maintains her innocence."
According to new reports, Carlos Arajeni-Arriaza, 24, was allegedly killed by Jesse Martinez, 18, and Philip Baldenegro, 19, together with Zephi Trevino in a struggle with the gun.
Is Zephi free now?
In an Instagram page known as @freezephi, one post was captioned: "Zephi is home and we cannot believe this day has come, we would like to thank all the support that has been given throughout this process and the fight is not over but we will continue to fight."
Zephaniah's parents shared in another post: "We wanted to update you lovely people on how zephi has been these past 2 1/2 months almost 3 !!! Man it’s crazy to think our baby has been home for almost 3 months ❤️ in the short amount of time she had been home zephi had started school for her senior year, and zephi has spent so much time with her family ! She has done so many things in her spare time like carve pumpkins, bake ALOT, and her grandma (mamac) had shown her how to knit 🧶. Zephi has been blessed to be home and be with her family and has spent every minute with them🤍 with her case still pending we are praying and believing in the best and we know God will take care of everything! We also want to thank everyone for the support, and nice words and comments and for every thing. We’re sorry for the late update but we have been spending every minute with our baby girl!"
Not just they also wrote: "Since our daughters release our family has been complete again but awaiting her trial. We continue to pray and believe for Gods hand to move in her situation. Throughout these months of her being home on house arrest it is a huge blessing and our hopes very high that our daughters case would be dropped from DA.
We have been served with papers for a hearing in Dec to have our daughter certified as an adult. Her birthday is approaching and she will be 18 in 2020."
The post further read: "We need prayers and support to take action against the DA that this is wrong! I personally don’t even understand how you can certify a minor to an adult court when it happened when she was 16 and a victim. She is innocent and did not kill or steal anything. She was forced and is a sex traffic victim despite that the Texas Law and Dallas DA Cruzot does not recognize sex traffic victims. Please email, call, share this to friends and family that are willing to help Free our daughter. She was 16 when this happened! Help #FreeZephi."
What did Jamie Lee Curtis say?
Sharing a letter in support of her, Curtis, 62, pled Dallas County’s district attorney, John Creuzot, to drop the charges. "I'm an actress, author and advocate for children, but most important of all, I'm a mother," she wrote, adding, "How is it possible that a 16-year-old girl, a victim of sex trafficking and sexual violence who was an innocent bystander in a crime, could possibly be held accountable for that crime? That is the brutal truth happening to Zephi Trevino today. The Dallas district attorney plans to try this teen sex trafficking victim as an adult when she is still just a child. Hearing her story pierced my mother's heart and I am writing this as a way to help Zephi's own mother, Crystal, fight to free her daughter."
"As a mother of two children, I am outraged. Our criminal justice system must be better than this. All the DA has to do is drop the charges against this innocent girl. She didn't hold a gun. She didn't create the scenario. She was being sold for sex. And now, after being abused and victimized by her trafficker, she's being victimized again — this time by the legal system that should be protecting her."
She added, "The story of Zephi, an innocent child preyed upon by unscrupulous villains, like the story of Matthew Rushin, a young, autistic man, two young people caught in the machine of a broken system are the victims not just of the harsh circumstances that surround their incarceration but the seeming indifference of the people in the highest offices who can set them free. This is a season of compassion. I urge you to get involved in both of their cases. Jason Flom and Justin Moore are advocates."
How Kim Kardashian backed her
Kim Kardashian supported the 16-year-old, shared a tweet and told her fans: "Please sign this petition to show support for the innocence of Zephaniah Trevino."
No sooner did she post it, a flurry of Twitter users joined to support her. One Twitter user even said he knew her. "This hits close to home. I knew Zephy when she was a kid through softball. Her parents were my coaches at one point. Praying for the entire Trevino family #JusticeforZephaniahTrevino," the tweet read. Another said, "I used to work with this little girl’s sister at Grand Prairie HS. Sex trafficking is real and she deserves to be protected! A 16-year-old junior!!! Please sign! #JusticeforZephaniahTrevino."
This hits close to home. I knew zephy when she was a kid through softball. Her parents were my coaches at one point. Praying for the entire Trevino family #JusticeforZephaniahTrevino https://t.co/lhHU2LrGLj— Dylan O'Connor (@oconnor_anna) July 31, 2020
I used to work with this little girl’s sister at Grand Prairie HS. Sex trafficing is real and she deserves to be protected! A 16 year old junior!!! Please sign! #JusticeforZephaniahTrevino https://t.co/Q6TnSDLfn6— Kathleen Latta (@kathleenLatta) July 30, 2020
Is it fake news?
However, one Twitter user alleged that it is fake news. "Anyone that knows her knows she wasn’t trafficked she was doing drugs long before her bf, she set up some dudes to get robbed hence the aggravated robbery charge she was whoring herself out for drugs. #JusticeforZephaniahTrevino is fake news."
Anyone that knows her knows she wasn’t trafficked she was doing drugs long before her bf, she set up some dudes to get robbed hence the aggravated robbery charge she was whoring her self out for drugs 🤦🏻♀️ #JusticeforZephaniahTrevino is fake news https://t.co/u4q0MVf3Ff— cops just be like oink (@peachblossombb) July 31, 2020
A Facebook post detailed the entire case. "16-year-old Zephaniah Trevino is currently being charged with capital murder and aggravated robbery in #Texas. Her life drastically changed when she was introduced to drugs by an abusive boyfriend," it read.
To seek justice for Trevino, her parents set up a charity defense fund and you can contribute there. With almost 2,303 backers, $64,316 has been raised out of its $100,000 goal.
With the mixed response on social media whether the case is true or false, it is difficult to decipher what really happened. MEAWW cannot independently verify the claims being made on the Internet. We have reached out to her parents for a comment and are waiting for a response.