The man charged with the killing of 10-year-old Kayla Gomez is an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was formally charged with capital murder. His bond has been set at $10M.
Tyler attorney Blake Bailey says this undoubtedly plays a factor in his future trial.
“There’s no question that the court has jurisdiction over him, that he is going to be subjected to any penalties that the jury finds are appropriate in the case,” Blake Bailey said.
Zavala was deported in 2014 for committing a violent crime. Now he is in Smith County Jail on a US immigration and customs enforcement or ICE detainer.
Bailey said this case will be tried in the United States.
“The court is going to try it here, they’re going to assume jurisdiction because someone in the United States is a victim,” Blake said.
There are times when a trial could be moved to the defendant’s home country, but that will likely not happen in this case.
“There’s always the possibility under certain circumstances that an outside county may want to challenge that and have someone tried somewhere else, but Mexico is not going to try to get this guy to come back to try him there,” Bailey said.
He said he will also serve his sentence in the United States and that it will likely be unaffected by his illegal status.
“If he’s guilty of killing that child he isn’t going to see the light of day again, so all the other things he did wrong are going to be almost irrelevant because you’ll never get to that point,” Bailey said.