Smith County judge: Court will not grant request for continuance - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Smith County judge: Court will not grant request for continuance in Kayla Gomez case

Gustavo Zavala- Garcia. (Source: KLTV News Staff) Gustavo Zavala- Garcia. (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Kayla Gomez-Orozco. (Source: Family Photo) Kayla Gomez-Orozco. (Source: Family Photo)
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

During Wednesday's pre-trial hearing for the man accused in the death of 10-year-old Kayla Gomez Orozco, a Smith County judge said the court will not grant the motion for continuance requested by the defense.

In November of 2016, Gustavo Zavala Garcia was charged with capital murder for Orozco's death.

Judge Jack Skeen said that the purpose of the pre-trial hearing was to hear testimony from a Texas Department of Public Safety forensic-testing chemist.

Kristen Casota, a DPS forensic scientist who was involved in trace analysis in the case, was called to the stand. She said that the DNA testing on the items submitted in December of 2016 has been completed and that the trace analysis should be completed by the end of April.

If the trace report is released at the end of April, and there are no hairs that need DNA testing, the report would be finished at that time, Casota said. She said that if there are any more items found during trace analysis that need DNA testing, the report may not be complete until July.

Skeen said that Casota's testimony will be considered while he is amending the trial schedule for the case. The judge told the DPS forensic scientist that he would like an update from her at the next pre-trial hearing on April 26.

During the hearing, Skeen said that he is looking at a trial start date in late October. He said he is going to sign an order today for all completed testing to be handed over to the defense for additional testing.

Skeen said the court will not grant defense's request for a continuance at this time, which means the court will stick to the current schedule. DPS will provide another update on forensic testing at the next pre-trial hearing, which is scheduled for April 26. Skeen said he will make a ruling for the request for a continuance at that point.

7OnScene: Get updates from the courtroom

In January, the trial's start date was pushed back to October.

During Zavalla's last court appearance on March 21, defense attorneys asked for a continuance in the case after Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said the Texas Department of Public Safety is still conducting forensic testing.

“They confirmed on March 19, this month that the trace analysis would be completed or should be completed by April,” Bingham said at the time. “And that the DNA testing is scheduled to be completed by the end of July."

Zavala Garcia has been in the Smith County Jail awaiting trial for almost a year and a half. Some of that time was spent in solitary after he climbed onto a basketball goal and refused to come down.

Related stories:
+Zavala Garcia trial pushed back again, DNA testing continues?
+Zavala-Garcia trial reset, further DNA testing needed
+VIDEO: Suspect in Kayla Gomez murder removed from jail roof 
+Arrest warrant: Suspect in Kayla Gomez-Orozco case took polygraph test
+Capital murder charge filed against suspect in Kayla Gomez-Orozco case
+Indictment: Kayla Gomez-Orozco possibly sexually assaulted
+Sheriff Smith, deputies transporting Gustavo Zavala-Garcia to jail
+Capital murder charge filed against suspect in Kayla Gomez-Orozco case
+Search warrant: Bloodstains, DNA collected in Kayla Gomez-Orozco case

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