Suspected West Campus killer charged with animal cruelty

Bryan Michael Canchola (Austin police booking photo)
Bryan Michael Canchola (Austin police booking photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man suspected of killing his boyfriend during argument at their West Campus apartment July 17 has been slapped with another charge: cruelty to animals, police said.

Authorities already charged 20-year-old Bryan Michael Canchola with first-degree murder in the death Stephen Sylvester, 18, who died in the hospital from head trauma and a severe laceration to the back of his head. The couple lived at an apartment near the intersection of West 26th Street and Guadalupe Street, an arrest affidavit states.

Police said a roommate heard the couple in an argument after coming home from a night of drinking. During the argument, the roommate said he heard Sylvester’s nine-pound Yorkshire Terrier named Harlow yelp, as if in pain, and Sylvester yelled for the dog to be “let go,” according to the warrant.

The roommate took Sylvester to the hospital. As he was leaving, he told police he heard Canchola say, “when you’re gone, you better hope I don’t find your dog…I’m going to kill it,” according the warrant.

Police later found Harlow, and the dog appeared injured. “She had bloodshot eyes, petechial hemorrhaging and was having difficulty swallowing,” according to the warrant. Police said the injuries are consistent with strangulation.

Cruelty to non-livestock animals is a state-jail felony. Canchola is being held in Travis County jail on a $500,000 bond, according to state records. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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