Kim Kardashian, Jamie Lee Curtis, and other advocates have argued that the 17-year-old is not a killer but a victim who deserves justice.
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Demi Lovato is demanding justice for Zephaniah "Zephi" Trevino, a Texas teen in jail for murder. The singer —along with actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Kim Kardashian, and other advocates — argues that Trevino is not a criminal but instead a victim of sex trafficking who deserves a chance at a better life and should regain her freedom.

Zephaniah Trevino and Demi Lovato
Credit: CHANGE.ORG; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Lovato shared the following message on Instagram: "To Texas, my home state: I'm asking you to investigate this case further. She is an incredibly young victim of sex trafficking. She is now being held accountable for a crime she didn't commit."

The 17-year-old is accused of murder in connection with a crime that occurred when she was 16. Trevino is one of three people charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Carlos Arajeni-Arriaza Morillo, 24, in a Grand Prairie apartment in 2019. Her mother says Zephi is a sex trafficking victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Philip Baldenegro admitted to fatally shooting Morillo as part of a robbery attempt. Trevino's mother alleges that Zephi was being sex trafficked by Baldenegro, who was 18 at the time of the killing. According to her advocates, Trevino was forced to perform sex acts on Morillo and another victim of the shooting.

According to an online petition to free Trevino, which has over 33,000 signatures, "Zephaniah was approached in May 2019 by a sex trafficker who used physical threats, threats of death against her family, and drugs. She had recently been exposed to drugs in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend."

Zephaniah Trevino
Credit: CHANGE.ORG

Trevino's attorney, Justin A. Moore, said in a statement to People that her case reflects a "broken criminal justice system that routinely overlooks these children as victims and, consequently, has no problem trying them as adults."

Zephaniah Trevino
Credit: Facebook

Crystal Trevino, Zephi's mom, told a local news station that she's experienced "a mother’s worst nightmare." According to the online petition, the teen "played softball, and had made the drill team at her local high school."

Trevino is being held in a juvenile detention facility and Dallas County prosecutors want to try her as an adult in a hearing on January 4, People reports. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis also amplified the story on Instagram, criticizing the justice system for placing blame on a young victim. Trevino's case is also spotlighted in the podcast Wrongful Conviction With Jason Flom.

"Show support for the innocence of Zephaniah Trevino," Kim Kardashian tweeted in July, asking her followers to sign the petition to #FreeZephi.