Crime

Jury sentences man to 30 years in prison for wreck that killed probation officer

Zavala sentenced to 30 years in prison

EL PASO, Texas - A jury has sentenced the man accused of driving drunk, crashing and killing his probation officer turned lover to 30 years in prison.

The same jury Wednesday found  Zavala guilty of Aggravated Assault.

Zavala was originally charged with Intoxication Manslaughter for the death of his passenger, 43-year-old Cynthia Mendoza. A Grand Jury indicted Zavala on a charge of Aggravated Assault.

In February 2015, Zavala was driving east along the 4200 block of Fred Wilson in Northeast El Paso when he sped past a red light and lost control of his truck.

Police said Zavala crashed into a traffic sign, causing the truck to roll.  Mendoza was hospitalized and later died as a result of injuries sustained in the wreck, police said.

Soon after the deadly crash, ABC-7 learned Mendoza was Zavala's probation officer. Witness testimony revealed Zavala and Mendoza were in a relationship and Mendoza had tried to get Zavala's probation reduced.

Mendoza's sister, Liliana Garcia, testified during Thursday's sentencing phase. A sobbing Garcia said her sister's loss is even more devastating during holidays, birthdays and family gatherings. "I warned Cynthia about people, not to trust people," Garcia said.

An emotional Zavala also took the stand Thursday. He told the jury he never met his biological father and his first marriage failed because of his anger issues.

When asked if he was in love with Mendoza and if she was in love with him, Zavala answered "yes."

Zavala's mother and sisters then took the stand to ask the jury for leniency.
 


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