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In Texas, 16-year-old Zephaniah Trevino was involved in a robbery that turned into a murder. She says the 18-year-old who pulled the trigger was selling her for sex to the man who was killed. As “Zephi” became the next hashtag, actress Jamie Lee Curtis bought a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News advocating for her. Prosecutors argued that Zephi should be sent to adult court, where she is now facing five to 99 years in prison.
And in Ohio, when Alexis went before the parole board in 2019, a lawyer from the office of Summit County Prosecutor Walsh argued that Alexis didn’t deserve to go free.
“If not for her, the crime would not have happened,” Rick Raley said.
He listened to Alexis and her new attorneys, Jennifer Kinsley and Sasha Naiman, describe the abuse and the evidence her first lawyer had failed to present.
The prosecutor was not swayed. In a recent interview, Raley, along with Walsh’s chief counsel, Brad Gessner, said Alexis’s story of being trafficked was a “new narrative” she didn’t disclose “until she saw that she could get a benefit from it.”
But the prosecutors’ account of how the case unfolded misrepresents what happened after Alexis’s arrest.
The prosecutors said that Alexis did not confess in her first interview with police and that only in later interviews did she admit her involvement in the robbery. But no additional interviews ever occurred.
Prosecutors said Alexis did not tell detectives she was being trafficked. But video shows she disclosed that Kerney was her pimp five minutes after being read her rights.
Prosecutors said Alexis did not mention trafficking to the court psychologist, either. But the doctor’s report said she worked as an “escort” and at a strip club Kerney had connected her to.
When asked about these inaccuracies, the prosecutors dismissed them, saying they did not see the connection between Alexis’s disclosures and the crime.