Attorney Brett Harrison, left, talks with his client Gustavo Zavala-Garcia along with an interpreter, at right, at the Smith County Courthouse on Thursday May 2, 2019. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Capital murder suspect Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Thursday. He was in the courtroom with his attorneys and the interpreters assigned to the case, but the hearing did not take place. 

The court announced the hearing was canceled and that the current scheduling order would be revised about 30 minutes after the hearing was scheduled to begin.

Zavala-Garcia, 26, is accused of the November 2016 killing of 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco, and, if convicted on the capital murder charge, could be sentenced to death.

Two weeks ago, 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen granted a defense motion in the case for additional DNA testing that would need to be conducted at a private lab or the University of North Texas lab, the only public lab in the state that can conduct mitochondrial DNA testing. 

The state and defense agreed during that hearing that there were additional hairs collected from the victim's skirt and T-shirt that would need DNA testing that cannot be done by the DPS lab.  

Zavala-Garcia was related to Kayla 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 caused her death, and at the time the indictment was released, then-District Attorney Matt Bingham declined to comment, citing a 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.

Crime and Breaking News Reporter

I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.

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