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Capital murder trial postponed for man accused of killing Kayla Gomez-Orozco

Photo Courtesy Chelsea Purgahn Tyler Morning Telegraph

The March 2018 trial for the man accused of killing 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco has been postponed because of delays in DNA testing.

Judge Jack Skeen said he would issue a new scheduling order Thursday afternoon in the capital murder trial of Gustavo Zavala-Garcia. He outlined the updated schedule saying the court would summon a central jury panel for Aug. 30, 2018, and start individual questioning of each potential juror on Sept. 10. Presentation of evidence would begin Oct. 8.

In December, Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham told 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen that all DNA testing should be completed by the end of January, based on a conversation with a Texas Department of Public Safety DNA analyst. The analyst had hoped to have the DNA testing done by the end of December.

The analysis of trace evidence, which, in general, can include items such as hair, fibers, soil and pollen, should be completed by the end of December, Bingham said at the time.

Defense attorney Jeff Haas said at December's hearing that he was not surprised by the delay and understood.

Bingham previously said the DPS is working hard to get the testing completed as soon as possible and has moved the case to the forefront.

Skeen previously said DPS handles forensic analysis for all types of cases statewide and it prioritizes evidence in capital murder cases when the state is seeking the death penalty, which is happening in this case.

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.

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