Gustavo Zavala-Garcia indicted on capital murder charge in connection with death of Kayla Gomez-Orozco

Published on Thursday, 26 January 2017 14:05 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

A Smith County grand jury has indicted Gustavo Zavala-Garcia on a charge of capital murder in the November death of 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco.

Kayla’s body was found Nov. 5, four days after she went missing, in a well on the property where Zavala-Garcia, 24, lived in the 22100 block of Farm-to-Market Road 2493 (Old Jacksonville Highway) in Bullard.

Zavala-Garcia, who was related to Kayla by marriage, was reportedly among the last people to see her before she went missing from the foyer of Bullard First Assembly on U.S. Highway 69.

Her disappearance and subsequent death prompted a huge outpouring of support from the community, with hundreds turning out for a community wide search the Saturday after she went missing.

However, the outcome was not as people had hoped. Kayla’s body was recovered from a well in the early morning hours of Nov. 6, five days after her disappearance.

Smith County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Mitch Shamburger held an inquest at the scene and ordered the body taken to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas for an autopsy.

Officials have declined to release the cause of death to this point, but the arrest warrant affidavit sheds some light on the time frame of the alleged crime.

It reveals about 30 minutes passed between the time Kayla is believed to have gone missing and the time law enforcement officials believe she was placed in the well. Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith previously said she is believed to have died the night she went missing or early the next day.

The affidavit indicates Zavala-Garcia arrived at the church with his 3-year-old daughter at 7 p.m. and left 35 minutes later.

Investigators believe he placed Kayla in the well sometime between 7:47 p.m. and 8:04 p.m., according to the affidavit. This is based on the time cell phone records indicate Zavala-Garcia arrived at the property and the time his wife said he entered the residence. His wife was interviewed multiple times and investigators said they did not believe she was involved in the crime.

This is not the first time Zavala-Garcia has had a run in with the law. In 2014, he was sentenced to 30 days in Smith County Jail on a Class A misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member. He pleaded guilty to pushing, grabbing, striking and kicking his wife.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

 

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Staff writers Cory McCoy and Faith Harper contributed to this report.