A man who recently plead guilty to the murder of a 10-year-old girl will not face the death penalty but will spend his life behind bars. According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph the man was related to his young victim through marriage. The Associated Press referred to him as a “Mexican national.”
In a statement Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman expressed his frustration with the criminal not facing the death penalty. The man in this case was determined to be intellectually disabled and Putman said the Supreme Court has ruled that capital murder defendants who are deemed to be intellectually disabled cannot be executed.
Here is part of Putman’s statement:
Today, August 22 2019, Gustavo Garcia-Zavala entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to Life In Prison Without Parole.
This result is a direct consequence of recent action taken by the United States Supreme Court. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that the State cannot execute an Intellectually Disabled capital murder defendant, regardless of how severe or heinous the crime.
The Court’s ruling left victims’ families devastated and communities outraged. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals instituted standards that allowed a jury to apply common sense when deciding if a capital murder defendant was Intellectually Disabled.
However, in March of 2017, the Supreme Court went even further in their restriction of the death penalty. In Moore v. Texas, the Supreme Court prohibited the common sense approach adopted by Texas Courts. The Supreme Court ruled that the determination of whether a capital murder defendant is Intellectually Disabled should be left to mental health experts.
In other words, if mental health experts agree that a capital murder defendant is Intellectually Disabled, the State of Texas cannot execute the criminal. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled that a person cannot be executed regardless of their degree of Intellectual Disability.
Putman said that the man should have faced the death penalty in order for justice to be served.
Let me be clear, I do not believe that the standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court results in justice for Kayla’s family or our community. If there were any legal way to ensure that Mr. Garcia-Zavala would face the death penalty, I would persist.
However, I took an oath to uphold the rule of law. While I strongly disagree with the law the Supreme Court has given us, I am bound to follow it. The Supreme Court has denied Kayla’s family and our community the justice they deserve.
Faced with the reality of the state of the law and knowing there would be no way to achieve a valid death sentence, we entered into a plea agreement with Mr. Garcia-Zavala that resulted in Life Without Parole. He will never be released, and he will die in prison.
In other news, Border Patrol agents recently arrested a previously deported criminal who had been convicted of statutory rape. “Tucson Sector agents apprehended the Honduran national Monday afternoon,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported. “Records checks revealed 30-year-old Elvin Javier Maldonado-Gomez had been convicted in Gwinnet County, Georgia, for statutory rape in 2013. He served five years in jail before being deported in January 2019.”
#TucsonSector Border Patrol agents arrested a previously deported sex offender Monday after he reentered the country illegally near Nogales. @CBP Details: https://t.co/cn76RIurVU pic.twitter.com/wz5f4bzxlV— CBP Arizona (@CBPArizona) August 28, 2019
Another illegal immigrant recently arrested by Border Patrol agents was discovered to have been “previously charged and convicted for Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling. The man received a 10-year prison sentence in California for his crimes. He also self-admitted to being a member of the notorious Sureños gang,” CBP said. The agency noted the man “was previously removed from the United States in 2014.”