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Man pleads guilty, gets life in death of 10-year-old cousin

11 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, August 22 2019 Aug 22, 2019 August 22, 2019 3:29 PM August 22, 2019 in News - AP Texas Headlines

TYLER, Texas (AP) - A 27-year-old Mexican national has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to capital murder in the death of a 10-year-old female cousin.

Gustavo Zavala-Garcia entered the plea Thursday in state district court in Tyler. Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putnam says the prosecution's hand was forced after prosecutors and defense attorneys found Zavala-Garcia to be intellectually disabled. That would have disqualified him for execution.

Zavala-Garcia's cousin by marriage, 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco, was reported missing after a Nov. 1, 2016, church service near Tyler. Volunteers searched the area until her body was found in the well of a rented house four days later.

Prosecutors asserted that Zavala-Garcia abducted and tried to sexually assault her, hit her with a blunt object, then asphyxiated and drowned her.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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