A vicious killing may appear to be an open-and-shut criminal case, but now legal experts say three teenagers accused of the murder may have had a justifiable reason for the violence.
The body of 42-year-old Gabriel Quintanilla was originally found in a Texas field by McAllen police officers on Jan. 20, San Antonio Express-News reported. Investigators say that before his death, he was brutally beaten in multiple assaults.
While brothers Alejandro and Christian Trevino, along with a third teen, Juan Melendez, have been hit with a slew of serious charges related to the killing, Christian Trevino and Melendez have been charged with capital murder for allegedly throwing the killing strikes. All three are 18 years old.
The alleged murder started with an accusation.
The Pharr, Texas, brothers first confronted Quintanilla, their stepfather, after he allegedly sexually abused their young sister. It seems things quickly took a violent turn.
“A physical fight ensued between the three, and the victim, Quintanilla, left the location on foot,” Pharr police deputy chief Juan Gonzalez said while updating the public about the case.
When Quintanilla fled, police say brother Christian pursued him to an apartment complex while the other two teens raced to the scene in a Dodge Charger.
After a second assault allegedly occurred, the three teens supposedly then left to change vehicles, this time driving back in a Ford F-150 truck.
Police say that the three found Quintanilla alone on the road, injured, and quickly descended on him with brass knuckles. Investigators believe this is what gave the man serious head trauma before he was thrown in the back of the truck and his body dumped in a nearby field.
While this may seem like an open-and-shut case, legal experts say there are other factors at play here.
“If you are the defense attorney in this situation, what you’re arguing is there are these mitigating circumstances,” attorney Charles Adams told Houston’s KRIV-TV. “The rape of their very young, small child little sister, by their evil stepfather.”
Boosting the teens’ cases, Quintanilla reportedly did have an active warrant out for continuous sexual abuse of a child. According to Adams, the previous warrant hints that the accusation about Quintanilla and the teens’ young sister does have merit.
If the case is presented to a jury as protective brothers acting to save a young girl when the police seemingly did not or could not, these teens may have a chance at beating some of the charges.
“Now a lawyer would look at the jury and say, ‘Hey, we understand that this meets the element but we are asking you to find them not guilty anyway,'” Adams said.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in America that can’t sympathize with two brothers acting the way they did in response to someone who had violently raped their little sister.”
While none of these factors permit vigilante justice, a jury may see things differently if given this evidence.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.