Man Charged With 1st Degree Murder In Boyfriend's Death

Early on Friday morning, 18-year-old Stephen Sylvester checked into University Medical Center Brackenridge, bleeding profusely from a head wound he suffered during a fight with his boyfriend, according to police.

But Sylvester walked out of the hospital before he received medical treatment, police say.

At about 6:30 a.m., Austin police found Sylvester unconscious in his home at the GrandMarc apartments near the University of Texas with his boyfriend. Sylvester died at the hospital from head trauma. His boyfriend, Bryan Canchola, 20, is charged with first-degree murder, accused of beating him to death, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Sylvester and Canchola’s roommate told police that the couple had been fighting since about 4:15 a.m. after coming home from drinking on Fourth Street.

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.

The roommate told detectives he also scuffled with Canchola before loading Sylvester into his car and driving him to the hospital.

The report does not indicate how Sylvester checked in at the hospital, and a Seton Healthcare Family spokesman said Sunday he did not have any information about the incident.

It is also not clear from the police report how Sylvester left or whether hospital employees attempted to stop him.

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.

An autopsy showed that Sylvester had injuries common with strangulation, including a broken bone in his neck, and found he died from head trauma.

Sylvester’s dog also was injured and appeared to have been choked, the affidavit says.

Canchola is in the Travis County Jail charged with murder. His bail is set at $500,000.

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