GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (KXAN) — A 2019 incident involving murder, robbery and claims of sex trafficking between teenagers in North Texas have each of their families pointing the blame at each other.
The criminal legal disputes stem from a robbery at a Grand Prairie apartment complex on August 3, 2019, according to NBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth. This incident led to the robbery of one victim and the killing of another victim, Carlos Arajeni-Arriaza, 25.
The defendants are 19-year-old Phillip Baldenegro and 16-year-old Zephi Trevino — who both say the other is to blame in the events.
The parents of Trevino gave permission for juvenile Zephi to be identified, saying they want her story to be told.
The Trevino family says Zephi was sex trafficked by Baldenegro.
“She was lured and manipulated to do things that were not in her path in life to do. And this is a child we’re talking about,” said mother Crystal Trevino.
Meanwhile, Baldenegro’s attorney and family say that’s not the case.
Baldenegro’s mom told detectives that her son had been around Zephi Trevino in the past, saying, “We did tell my son to stay away from this little girl, but he never listened. He didn’t listen. He was in love with her.”
David Finn, Baldenegro’s attorney, says Baldenegro and Trevino conspired to rob the two men, telling them they could have sex with Trevino. Then, the attorney says, Arajeni-Arriaza was killed by Baldenegro as the two struggled for a gun.
There is proof in text messages that Trevino and Baldenegro had agreed on the plan, Finn says.
“She engineered, organized, executed the entire plan,” Finn said.
Meanwhile, Baldenegro himself says, “I didn’t sex traffic her and I didn’t do anything to harm her. I was treating her with respect.”
Finn says his client was lied to by Trevino.
‘There’s not a single threat. There’s not a single ounce of coercion. There’s nothing about trafficking. So, if she was trafficked, it wasn’t Philip Baldenegro. This is boyfriend-girlfriend. He loved her,” Finn said. “I wouldn’t be giving a statement if I didn’t get bombarded with social media, Facebook, GoFundMe, saying your guy is a sex trafficker.”
Baldenegro, who admitted to firing the fatal shot, is currently free on bond. Trevino is currently in juvenile detention.
“The fact that a person who brutally murdered someone, an accused killer, isn’t telling the whole story about how he sex-trafficked young girls isn’t really surprising,” said Ashkan Mehryari, one of Trevino’s lawyers.
Zephi Trevino’s mother says her daughter should not be in detention because she is a victim in the case.
“I don’t know what I can say but I can tell you this, that there was sex trafficking happening and my daughter was a victim. And Philip will have to face his day in court,” Crystal Trevino said.