UPDATED 6:25 PM PT – Thursday, January 28, 2021
Prosecutors in the Golden State called out Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) after he refused to stop the release of a convicted murderer. This week, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said Newsom fell short of using all of the resources at his disposal to keep 48-year-old Gerardo Zavala behind bars.
In 2001, Zavala and four others took part in luring 17-year-old Eric Jones into a home to make him endure hours of physical and mental torture.
— Tulare County DA (@TulareDA) January 25, 2021
“I can’t imagine anybody going out [and] seeing what this defendant participated in doing, seeing the crime scene as it was,” David Alavezos, the Tulare County Assistant District Attorney, said. “[And] thinking that this is an individual who would ever be safe to be in society again.”
Zavala was convicted of the kidnapping, torture and murder of Jones. After spending 19 years in a cell for what some officials said is the worst crime they’ve ever seen, it’s likely Zavala will soon walk free.
He first applied for parole back in 2017, which former Governor Jerry Brown (D) rejected. After reapplying in October of 2020, prosecutors said Newsom has not committed to stopping his release.
“He should not be out,” Lealga Fortson, Eric Jones’ aunt, stated. “I don’t think he could be good enough to ever get out.”
According to the state’s parole board, Zavala has expressed remorse and had a “stellar disciplinary record.” Family members said they’ve been trying to contact Newsom after getting word of his pending release, but never received a response.
According to District Attorney Ward’s statement, how the governor refused to take a stand for Jones is “beyond comprehension.”