AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin mother is coming to the defense of her teenage son after he was charged with aggravated assault–family violence.
Dena Trybendis tells KXAN News that her son, Brandon Trybendis, 17, was only trying to protect her when he stabbed his mother’s boyfriend Friday, Oct. 14 at their home in the 6100 block of Smith Oak Trail in southwest Austin.
“[My ex-boyfriend] had grabbed a shotgun and threatened to kill us,” explained Dena Trybendis. “He wouldn’t let us leave.”
According to the arrest affidavit, the stabbing victim, Felipe Acosta III, is an alcoholic. Dena Trybendis told police that when he returned home on Friday night, he was intoxicated. An argument ensued. “I feared for our lives,” said Trybendis.
“[Acosta] turned his rage on my 17-year-old son, Brandon,” she continued.
Court documents state that Acosta III retrieved a shotgun and the couple began to physically struggle over possession of the weapon. That’s when Dena Trybendis says her teenage son came to her aid, attempting to retrieve the gun from the man.
The documents continue, “During the struggle over the gun, Dena said Felipe grabbed her and Brandon by the neck and ‘choked’ them to the point that they could not breathe.”
The altercation reportedly continued outside the home when Dena Trybendis says she was trying to leave, but her ex-boyfriend attacked her. Dena told police that after that, she saw her son “strike him [Acosta III] on the back several times.”
“Brandon defended himself and us. If he hadn’t, I don’t believe we would be here today,” she said.
“I don’t know why they arrested him,” Trybendis continued, crying. “He was just defending himself and us.”
Brandon Trybendis’ arrest affidavit states:
“Brandon said he felt there was nothing else he could do, and feared Felipe III would overpower them and possibly hurt or kill his mother.” He continued by telling police that he had grabbed the knife for protection.
The affidavit continues, alleging that the teenager used “unreasonable (deadly) force to cause serious bodily injury to Felipe Acosta III.”
Counsel for the Trybendis family say they are hopeful the charges against Brandon Trybendis will be dismissed.
“I think once the district attorney reviews the facts, that they’ll dismiss these charges because this really is just a case of classic self defense,” said Clem Vetters, attorney at law. “We’re all allowed to defend ourselves when we are in imminent danger and that’s really what happened here.”
According to the Austin Police Department, over the course of the past two years, officers were called to the family’s residence only twice. Both of those calls appear to be related to Friday’s stabbing incident.
This case is just one of many domestic violence related cases reported every year and in Travis County, more criminal family violence cases are ending up in court.
In Fiscal Year 2012, there were 718 felony family violence cases that went to court, compared to 1,218 of the same cases that went to court in Fiscal Year 2016. This marks a 70 percent increase, comparatively.
A law change in 2009 may be somewhat responsible for the uptick in family violence felony cases going to court in Travis County. That law upgraded the charge of strangulation of a family member from a misdemeanor to a felony.
According to a presentation for the Travis County Commissioners Court, violent crime cases on Travis County dockets were up to 3,341 in the 2016 fiscal year compared to 2,769 in 2012, with family violence assaults, aggravated robbery and robbery driving that increase.
Speaking about domestic violence in general, the family’s attorney says it’s a widespread problem. “I don’t think it’s just in Travis County. I think it’s unfortunately, across the United States as a whole,” added Vetters.
KXAN reached out to Acosta’s family. They did not want to go on camera with us, but said that the couple fought, but nothing like this incident.
The arrest affidavit also references a separate assault charge against the stabbing victim. It states “Felipe III is depressed because he can’t find a job, and has a pending assault case against him.”
KXAN retrieved the arrest affidavit in that case. It dates back to a July 2016 misdemeanor arrest wherein Acosta III is accused of striking a woman in the face several times outside The Yellow Rose, a strip club. Acosta III is scheduled to appear in court next on this charge on Oct. 28.