The spine-chilling death of Mikhail Khachaturyan at the hands of his teenage daughters sent shockwaves across the globe. The Russian sisters -- Krestina, 19; Angelina, 18; and Maria, 17 -- attributed the premeditated murder as the last resort to years of torture. The girls allegedly endured years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by their “rapist” father.

Khachaturyan was a habitual abuser according to his daughters and had chastised them just before his untimely death. The girls revealed that their father pepper-sprayed on them for apparently dirtying the house. This was perhaps the last straw, as the trio decided to act on their long-standing plan: They attacked him with a hammer, a knife, and the same can of pepper spray he had used on them earlier.

Domestic violence experts, along with the sisters' defense team, suggested that the extreme step was taken by the sisters only to protect themselves from being killed by their aggressive father. The defense team also pointed out the lack of adequate protective mechanisms within law enforcement that led to it.

The sisters confessed to their crime and were subsequently indicted on the charges of murder last summer. But activists in Moscow were up in arms, urging the parliament to pass a law to protect victims of domestic abuse. The case was however temporarily shelved by the parliament in 2016.

Fast forward to now, and the two elder sisters Krestina and Angelina will face trial together. The third sister, who was a minor at the time of the murder, is currently 18 but deemed “mentally unfit” to commit murder and will reportedly be tested separately on murder charges.

Aleksey Liptser, one of the sisters’ attorneys, published the screenshots of text conversations obtained from Khachaturyan’s phone that explicitly revealed his domineering and abusive ways. "I will beat you up for everything, I will kill you," says one text from April 2018, referencing to the sexual relations his daughters allegedly had with a male acquaintance. “You are prostitutes and you will die as prostitutes.” Read another message.

In their defense, Aleksey Parshin, another lawyer for the sisters also stated that the girls developed serious mental illnesses including abuse syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

At first, public pressure seemed to have worked in favor of the Khachaturyan sisters. Almost one million people signed petitions urging the law to allow the sisters to go free.

In January, the prosecutor's office initially confirmed that the allegations made by the defense that the sisters had developed a defensive reaction to years of physical abuse and sexual violence.

The prosecutors then ordered the Investigative Committee for a reclassification of the case from premeditated murder to necessary self-defense. But, things took a reversal after Viktor Grin, the same prosecutor confirmed in May that premeditated murder charges would indeed be laid against the sisters – irrespective of the circumstances behind it. Strangely, no explanation was given for the change.

Mari Davtyan, a lawyer for the sisters who often represents victims of domestic abuse, slammed the move and linked the reversal to a distressing trend of dismissing human rights that have seen an unprecedented rise since the time controversial amendments were passed in the Russian constitution, following a referendum on July 1.

The two older sisters could face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.  

Femicide, Rape A woman holds up a sign that reads "Enough" during a demonstration to demand policies to prevent femicides outside the Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci