Boyfriend charged with killing Houston man

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A college student in Austin beat his boyfriend to death during a drunken attack, leaving the victim's friends and former boyfriend in Houston mourning their loss at a candlelight vigil. 

After a night of drinking at Austin's gay bars, Stephen Sylvester, 18, and boyfriend Bryan Canchola, 20, returned to their GrandMarc apartment near the University of Texas early Friday. That's when the two started fighting about 4:15 a.m., apparently over accusations from Canchola that Sylvester cheated on him, and Canchola physically attacked him, according to police.

Via the Statesman:

The roommate described a violent fight in which Canchola — who appeared to be extremely intoxicated — punched Sylvester in the face, threw a heavy glass and beer bottles and threatened to kill Sylvester’s dog, according to the affidavit.

The roommate heard “banging and violent crashing” from the room the two men shared, as well as Sylvester’s dog yelping in pain, according to the affidavit.

A roommate took Sylvester to University Medical Center Brackenridge, though Canchola scuffled with him too as he left the apartment, according to police.

But before Sylvester was treated for his head injuries at the hospital, he left and returned to the apartment.

Via the Statesman:

The roommate called police at 5:50 a.m. to tell them that Sylvester disappeared from the hospital and could be in danger. About a half-hour later, at 6:18 a.m., Canchola called 911 from the apartment saying that Sylvester was unconscious and bleeding after they fought.

When they arrived at the apartment, police found Sylvester unconscious with bruises on his face and a possible bite mark on his arm, according to the affidavit. Officers suspected that someone had tried to clean the blood off Sylvester, and Canchola had changed clothes since earlier in the evening, the affidavit says.

Sylvester was strangled, suffered a broken bone in his neck and died from head trauma, according to an autopsy. Canchola also apparently choked Sylvester's dog, Harlow, during the initial attack, according to police. 

Canchola was charged with murder and remains in the Travis County Jail with a $500,000 bond, according to the Statesman. In 2013, Canchola was arrested and charged with public intoxication and failure to identify himself to a police officer, according to About magazine. He was sentenced to probation.

Sylvester lived in Houston until April and dated Taylor Shirley for nearly a year before moving to Austin. The couple lived together until Sylvester left to attend school and live closer to family, Shirley tells KXAN. He graduated from Marble Falls High School, which is about an hour northwest of Austin.

“I just kind of collapsed on my friend's kitchen floor and cried there for awhile,” Shirley says of his reaction to Sylvester's death. “He had such a big heart.”

Shirley joined other friends of Sylvester on Sunday during a candlelight vigil in Houston, according to About. 

“He was larger than life. He walked into a room and filled it up in the best way. He was the type of person that if you were walking past him and he noticed you looking sad, he would stop you and ask to talk about it.”

Shirley tells the New York Daily News that he didn't know much about Canchola.

“I can’t imagine why somebody would try to hurt him or his dog,” Sylvester’s ex-boyfriend, Taylor Shirley, told the Daily News.

Sylvester and Canchola had not been dating long before Friday’s fatal assault, Shirley said.

“Stephen was a very big hearted and trusting person and so whenever he met people, he trusted them way too easily and I think this was just one of those things. He trusted the wrong person and it cost him his life,” Shirley added.

Since Sylvester's death, friends launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help with funeral expanses. More than $11,000 has been donated by Wednesday.

This is written with a very heavy heart, we are asking for donations to help give our spunky loved one his last, fabulous, runway walk to heaven. All donations that are given will be used for funeral arrangements,  as well as a family/ friends gathering to celebrate the wonderfully flamboyant life of Stephen Roy Sylvester Jr.  

Services are scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Spicewood Baptists Church.

[Top photo via; vigil photo via | h/t Towleroad]



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