Suspect Gustavo Zavala-Garcia charged with capital murder in death of Kayla Gomez-Orozco, 10

Published on Tuesday, 8 November 2016 01:06 - Written by CORY MCCOY, comccoy@tylerpaper.com

Gustavo Zavala-Garcia has been charged with capital murder in connection to the death of Kayla Gomez-Orozco, 10, whose body was found on a property where the suspect resides.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith confirmed Monday that Zavala-Garcia, 24, a relative of Kayla, had been charged with capital murder and a $10 million bond had been set.

Detectives spent the afternoon questioning Zavala-Garcia before he was taken to the Smith County Jail. Zavala-Garcia did not speak as he was taken from the sheriff’s office to a waiting patrol vehicle for transport.

Zavala-Garcia was taken into custody on an immigration detainer Sunday as detectives continued their investigation.

A news conference with Smith and Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Smith County Courthouse in the Central Jury Room.

Zavala-Garcia was reported to be among the last people to see the Kayla before she went missing. Investigators found Kayla’s body in a well near the suspect’s home.

Zavala-Garcia is married to a cousin of Kayla.

Kayla had been missing for four days after disappearing from the foyer of Bullard First Assembly after a prayer service, which Zavala-Garcia is said to have attended.

Investigators working a lead searched a home in the 2200 block of Farm-to-Market Road 2493. That same day hundreds of volunteers had searched the area near where Kayla went missing, hoping to find a sign of her whereabouts.

Shortly after officers were allowed in the home by the suspect, a search warrant was signed by Judge Jack Skeen in the 241st District Court.

Kayla’s body was recovered after midnight, and 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.

On Sunday law enforcement confirmed a male relative was in jail on an immigration detainer, being questioned about the death. Law enforcement declined to confirm this was Zavala-Garcia at the time.

Court records also show Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was sentenced to 30 days in Smith County Jail in 2014 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.

More information is expected to be released during the Tuesday news conference.

Faith Harper contributed to this report.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory