Parole recommended for man who participated in torture and murder of Delano teen

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TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KGET) — A man who lured a Delano teenager to a residence where he was tortured with live wires and beaten with a pipe before taken to a remote area and shot to death has been recommended for release by parole board commissioners.

The board’s recommendation regarding Gerardo Zavala, 48, was made over the “strident objection” of Tulare County prosecutors, one of who told the board the crime scene was the worst he had ever seen, according to a release from the prosecutor’s office.

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

“Unless Governor Newsom overturns the parole board’s recommendation, another murderer will be
released,” said Tulare District Attorney Tim Ward. “How the board failed to take a stand for Eric, an innocent 17-year-old young man who was brutally tortured, sodomized, and executed, is beyond comprehension. We will again be appealing to the Governor to overturn this decision.”

On Jan. 24, 2001, Zavala and two others enticed Jones, who was Black, to enter a residence to smoke meth, 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.

“After hours of torture, Jones was bound in duct tape and thrown into a car trunk, taken to a remote road outside Allensworth, and shot 10 times at point-blank range, killing him,” the release said.

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. Brothers Juan and
Gerardo Soto, also involved in the crime, are believed to have fled to Mexico, prosecutors said.

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