Tulare DA says Newsom won’t stop release of man who participated in torture and murder of Delano teen

Crime Watch

VISALIA, Calif. (KGET) — Governor Gavin Newsom won’t stop the release of a man convicted of murder in the brutal killing of a Delano teen 20 years ago, says the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

Parole board commissioners recommended the release of Gerardo Zavala, 48, in October. On Jan. 15, the DA was informed Newsom won’t block the release of Zavala, who currently has a hold placed on him by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the District Attorney’s office’s website.

Zavala and four others were convicted in the killing of 17-year-old Eric Jones. Zavala received 18 years to life in prison.

On Jan. 24, 2001, Zavala and two others enticed Jones, who was Black, to enter a residence to smoke methamphetamine, according to the release. Once there, the group jumped Jones in the garage and shouted racial slurs while they accused him of planning to steal their property.

They tortured Jones with live wires and a squeegee handle, then beat him with a pipe. Zavala participated in each act of violence against the teen, prosecutors said.

Hours later, they bound Jones with duct tape and threw him into the trunk of a car, prosecutors said. He was driven to a remote road outside Allensworth and shot 10 times at point-blank range.

Arrested four days later, Zavala admitted to participating in the torture and killing. Co-defendants Jorge Vidal, Keith Seriales, and Daniel Portugal were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and another co-defendant, Tyrone Ebaniz, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.

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