Police in Pharr, Texas, arrested two teenage brothers and their friend this week after the trio allegedly beat the brothers' stepfather to death upon discovering that he allegedly sexually abused their 9-year-old half-sister.
What are the details?
Alejandro and Christian Trevino, 18 and 17 years of age, respectively, along with family friend Juan Eduardo Melendez, 19, were charged on Sunday in connection with the death of 43-year-old Gabriel Quintanilla, whose body was found dumped in an open field.
According to local news reports, the brothers were responding to an outcry from their young half-sister, who said Quintanilla had inappropriately touched her at an RV park in town.
“When brothers Alexandro and Christian Trevino found out, they became enraged and confronted Gabriel Quintanilla at the residence. A physical fight ensued between the three and the victim Quintanilla left the location on foot,” read a news release from the Pharr Police Department, according to KGRV-TV.
The three suspects then reportedly chased Quintanilla down the road to an apartment complex, where they assaulted him a second time.
At that point, the suspects left the area, changed vehicles, and then drove back to the location, police said. They found Quintanilla alone and injured and proceeded to beat him a third time using brass knuckles.
Quintanilla's body was later found by a farmer in a field in McAllen, Texas, just a few miles away, Valley Central reported. Investigators determined he had suffered severe blunt force trauma to his head.
Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey Jr. thanked detectives for their quick and efficient work, saying, "This investigation was complex having multiple scenes. I am proud of how our detectives were able to put the pieces together in such a short time."
Christian Trevino and Melendez both face capital murder charges for their roles in the killing, and all three suspects face charges of aggravated assault and engaging in criminal activity.
However, some legal experts speculate that the suspects may be able to fight the charges on the basis that their actions were justified. The brothers have reportedly claimed that police failed to protect their half-sister from their abusive stepfather.
LEGAL TAKE: 3 Texas teens beat stepfather to death for allegedly sexually assaulting half sister www.youtube.com
At the time of his death, Quintanilla had an arrest warrant out for continuous sexual abuse of a different child and assault family violence, police said.
Defense attorney Charles Adams told KPRC-TV, "If you are the defense attorney in this situation, what you are arguing is that there are these mitigating circumstances: the rape of their very young, little sister by their evil stepfather."
Police chief Harvey explained that the capital murder charges were filed specifically because Quintanilla was kidnapped and some of his possessions were stolen. Police added that Quintanilla may have still been alive when he was dumped in the field.
Alexandro Trevino is being held on $1 million bond, while Christian Trevino and Melendez are being held on $1.5 million bond.