TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Attorneys for a man accused of murdering a 10-year old girl in Smith County are requesting his trial be moved and that the statements made during his interrogation be thrown out.
Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, 26, is charged with capital murder in connection with the death of 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco. Authorities believe Zavala-Garcia is the primary suspect in the case.
Kayla went missing during a Nov. 1, 2016, prayer service at a church in Bullard. Her body was later found in a water well at Zavala-Garcia’s home on FM 2493.
DNA testing is currently underway as both sides prepare to go to trial- but now attorneys for Zavala Garcia are requesting a change of venue.
Last week an application was filed to have the trial moved out of Smith County.
Attorneys argue that the defendant will be unable to get a fair and impartial trial because “there exists in Smith County, Texas, so great a prejudice against him ... .”
The motion includes three affidavits.
In one, an area defense attorney states, “I have personally heard numerous people state in their opinion that there does not even need to be a trial."
Attorneys are also asking that statements made by Zavala-Garcia while in custody be suppressed, arguing that he was not adequately notified of his rights to consult with an attorney prior to questioning, or of his right to end the interrogation - which lasted for 7 hours - at any time.
Attorneys also claim the Smith County Jail prevented a representative from the Mexican consulate from meeting with him while he was in custody.
Zavala-Garcia was arrested on Nov. 5, 2016 and held on an immigration detainer.
Two days later, he was questioned during a video-taped interview with a Texas Ranger and an investigator with the Longview Police Department that took place at the Smith County Sheriff’s Office administration building.
“... The local authorities failed to notify Mr. Zavala-Garcia of his right to seek consular assistance and then refused to permit consular access to him - a breach of binding treaty obligations that bears directly on the voluntariness of his waiver and of his subsequent statements,” the motion states.
Consular official Jose Ortiz Chavolla, with the Mexican consulate, also submitted an affidavit describing numerous attempts to meet with Zavala-Garcia and subsequent denials from local authorities.
“For more than seven hours - the very time during which Mr. Zavala-Garcia was being interrogated - Mr. Ortiz Chavolla was denied access to Mr. Zavala-Garcia,” the motion reads.
Attorneys are seeking a hearing to determine if his statements are admissible and should the motion to secure that hearing fail, attorneys are requesting a jury determine if he was adequately warned of his rights and if he knowingly waived those rights.