Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. makes notes during the arraignment of four individuals who were allegedly involved in the murder of a transgender teenager from Houston.

A crime that shook the county and reverberated across the country last week should be referred to the Missouri attorney general’s office, a national group said late last week.

Three persons are charged with the brutal death of 17-year-old teenager who relatives say planned to transition to a female. A fourth was allegedly involved in the attempted cover-up.

Andrew Vrba and Isis Schauer, 18, both of Houston, and Briana Calderas, 24, Cabool, face first-degree murder charges in the death of Joseph M. Steinfeld, who went by “Ally.” Thomas Gribsby, 25, of Thayer, is charged with as sisting in the burning of the victim’s body.

Attorneys for the defendants have filed several motions — ranging from a change of venue to a change of judge — for the case in the last few days.

Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. said there is no enhanced state penalty to classify the tragedy as a “hate crime.”

Stevens said he can’t file any extra penalty charges beyond those included for first-degree murder, armed criminal action, abandonment of a corpse or tampering with physical evidence, all already charged as part of the crime that occurred last month.

Stevens issued the statement after receiving inquiries as part of the national story.

The legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization with three million members in the country, asked Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley to take over handling of the four cases. “I ask your office to closely review the investigation and to bring justice to Ally and her family,” wrote Sarah Warbelow with the organization.

NO SERVICES ANNOUNCED

No funeral services have been announced as authorities work to match the remains to DNA, relatives say. Steinfeld’s cous in created a GoFundMe account to raise money for the family. Find it by searching “Funeral Expenses for the Steinfeld Family” at GoFundMe.com. At the first of the week, about $10,200 had been raised.

There is also a fund for the family at the Enterprise Bank & Trust in Cedar Hill. Checks made to the “Joseph Steinfeld Fund” can be mailed to the bank at P.O. Box 606, Cedar Hill, Mo. 63106. The victim grew up in the St. Louis area.

• News of the crime continues to reach a nationwide audience. Over the weekend, it was featured on the home page of CNN.

ONLINE

Read the full statement from Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr.

www.houstonherald.com

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