PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — An online petition is circulating, calling for the release of the three Pharr teens facing charges in connection to the murder of a man accused of touching a young relative inappropriately. The petition has gained over 294,000 signatures.

“These are kids they are 17, 18-year-old’s and regardless of whether you think what they did was right or wrong I think we can all agree that they shouldn’t spend the rest of their lives in prison,” said Carlos Eduardo Espina, the creator of the petition on named Justice for Alejandro, Christian, and Juan.

Espina tells ValleyCentral he wants change for the three teens Alejandro Treviño, Christian Treviño, and Juan Eduardo Melendez, who are all facing charges in connection to the killing of 42-year-old Gabriel Quintanilla.

“They are facing capital murder charges which here in Texas they have a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole so if they do get convicted of these charges they will spend the rest of their lives in prison,” said Espina.

This case has garnered national attention, and the petition addressed to Gov. Greg Abbott continues to grow. Espina said he wants the governor to take a closer look at the case.  

“Mostly I just want a re-evaluation of the case to see if those charges can be dropped to something lesser and potentially try to bargain for the best possible deal for them,” said Espina.

Jesse Villalobos, a local Defense Attorney at Villalobos Law Firm explains how petitions like this one can enact change, but to a certain extent. 

“The governor once the proceedings are done should he choose to do so could grant a pardon, that is within his legal authority, but it’s not within his legal authority to step in at the very beginning and ask someone to be released,” said Villalobos.

He went on to add that cases across the U.S. have shown the impact of political pressure, something we can come to see here.

“It does certainly put pressure on the local authorities to one, lower the bonds and two, when they proceed with the case, how they handle it,” said Villalobos.

Villalobos said while he understands this case is tragic, in order to have order in society one must go through the legal system, and people should not take justice into their own hands. This approach is something Espina said has failed repeatedly which is why he is calling for change now.