California DA blasts Newsom for taking ‘no action’ to stop release of convicted killer who tortured teen

Zavala is also the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold request.

A man convicted of torturing, sexually assaulting and murdering a 17-year-old boy in 2001 will walk free because California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom took "no action" to prevent his release, according to the prosecutors who locked him up.

Gerardo Zavala, 48, and six other Hispanic men allegedly lured Eric Jones, who was Black, to a house in Delano before beating, sodomizing and electrocuting him almost exactly 20 years ago, according to Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward’s office. He was up for parole in 2017, but Newsom’s predecessor denied it.

While torturing and sexually assaulting the victim, the men were "hurling racial epithets" and accusing him "of conspiring to steal their property," prosecutors said.

At one point, they taped copper wires to Jones’ fingers and stuck the other ends into a wall outlet, prosecutors said. He began crying, and they bound him with duct tape at the hands and feet and sliced his clothes off with a box cutter. Then they sodomized him and beat him with a pipe.

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They threw him in a trunk and drove him down a rural road, where they shot him 10 times at point blank range.

Authorities found Jones’ body on the side of a road near Allensworth – riddled with bullet wounds and with the word’s "Pepe’s B----" scrawled on his back in permanent marker, according to Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward.

Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos, who prosecuted Zavala and four other suspects, described the crime scene as "the worst I have ever seen."

Police arrested Zavala four days later, and he confessed to taking part in the crime. In 2006, he was convicted of second-degree murder, torture and kidnapping and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. Three accomplices, Jorge Vidal, the apparent ringleader, Keith Seriales and Daniel Portugal, were each sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole. Tyrone Ebaniz received a 15-year sentence for kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.

Two other suspects, Juan and Gerardo Soto, are believed to have fled to Mexico, according to Ward’s office.

"How Governor Newsom refused to take a stand for Eric, an innocent 17-year-old young man who was brutally tortured, sodomized, and executed, is beyond comprehension," Ward said in a statement Monday.

Zavala is also the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold request.

According to California’s parole board, he’s had a "stellar disciplinary record" and has expressed remorse.

The board had previously recommended Zavala’s release from prison in 2017, but then-Gov. Jerry Brown overruled the decision at the behest of prosecutors. The board once again recommended his release in October 2020, according to Ward.

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Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.

The governor is currently facing a recall effort that aims to oust him from office.