The completion of trace analysis and DNA testing is the next step in the case of capital murder suspect Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, who is accused of killing 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco in November 2016.
Zavala-Garcia, 25, appeared in the 241st District Court on Wednesday for a pretrial hearing, during which Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham updated Judge Jack Skeen about the status of DNA testing.
Bingham said based on conversations with a Texas Department of Public Safety employee, he expects to receive a final report on the trace analysis of the originally submitted items by early December.
The trace analysis considers materials such as hair, fibers, paint and glass that could be transferred during a violent crime.
In addition, Bingham said the defense attorneys selected about 12 items to submit for DNA testing and those should be completed by next week.
All of the initial DNA testing should be done by the end of December, with a report submitted after that, Bingham said.
He told Skeen the prosecution has provided all the information it has to the defense.
“There’s nothing that we have that they don’t have,” Bingham said.
The next pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14., with four more hearings scheduled for early 2018, before jury selection is set to begin in February. The trial date is slated for March 19, 2018.
Skeen said he would keep the schedule as is until he has a full picture of what’s been tested and the final reports from the trace analysis and DNA testing. At that point the defense has the right to request their own testing.
Skeen said any change to the schedule likely would be made by Jan. 4 at the latest.
Zavala-Garcia is accused of killing Kayla in November 2016. He was related to her by marriage and was among the last people to see her before she went missing Nov. 1, 2016, from the foyer of Bullard First Assembly on U.S. Highway 69.
Her 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.
It is unclear what exactly caused her death, and at the time the indictment was released, Bingham declined to comment, citing the restrictive and protective order in the case.
In the indictment, prosecutors contend Zavala-Garcia attacked Kayla and sexually assaulted or attempted to sexually assault her after her kidnapping.
Prosecutors also contend he struck Kayla with and against a blunt object, asphyxiated her and drowned her.