UPDATE: Gustavo Zavala-Garcia accused of sexually assaulting, killing Kayla Gomez-Orozco

Published on Thursday, 26 January 2017 20:00 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

Although the exact cause of death for Kayla Gomez-Orozco remains unclear, the 10-year-old was attacked and possibly sexually assaulted after her kidnapping, according to an indictment released Thursday.

The three-page indictment of Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, 24, on a charge of capital murder in Kayla’s November death, reveals he committed or attempted to commit sexual assault before her death.

It further reveals he struck her with and against a blunt object, asphyxiated her and drowned her.

Kayla’s autopsy has not been publicly released and Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham declined to comment on which of the previous actions caused her death.

“I would love to answer that question, but there is a restrictive and protective order issued,” Bingham said.

The indictment of Zavala-Garcia means at least nine of the Smith County grand jury’s 12 members found that a crime was committed, believe Zavala-Garcia committed it and believe he should be tried in court for it.

Though the court has appointed Jeff Haas to represent Zavala-Garcia, more defense attorneys likely will be added.

Bingham said, in general, capital murder cases can take a year to go to trial. He declined to speculate on the case, though, saying there are a lot of factors.

The indictment was filed in the District Clerk’s Office shortly after noon Monday. However, it was not posted online to the Smith County Judicial Records or made publicly available until Thursday.

Bingham said the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines steps that must be completed after an indictment is returned but before it is made public.

These include the issuance and return of the capias, which orders the arrest of the accused person; the adjustment of the bond, if needed; and the establishment of a cause number for the case.

In this case, Zavala-Garcia has been in jail since he was booked in November, and his bond remained at $10 million.

Zavala-Garcia, who was related to Kayla by marriage, was reportedly among the last people to see her before she went missing Nov. 1 from the foyer of Bullard First Assembly on U.S. Highway 69.

Kayla’s body was found four days later in a well on the property where Zavala-Garcia lived in the 22100 block of Farm-to-Market Road 2493 (Old Jacksonville Highway) in Bullard.

Her disappearance and subsequent death prompted a huge outpouring of support from the community, with hundreds turning out for a communitywide 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.

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 autopsy results.

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 cellphone 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.

 

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Senior editor Roy Maynard and staff writers Cory McCoy and Faith Harper contributed to this report.