U.S. marshals arrest man in connection with teen's death


by KVUE.com


Posted on January 10, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 11 at 4:31 PM

AUSTIN -- U.S. marshals and Austin police arrested Jose Ricardo Garcia-Zavala in Austin Thursday in connection with the suspicious death of a 13-year-old girl.

Garcia-Zavala was wanted by the Austin Police Department for a parole violation.

Marshals said they found Garcia-Zavala hiding on Bluff Springs Road in Southeast Austin, less than two miles from his home.

Police found Sophia Martinez unresponsive at a home on Lakehurst Drive in South Austin the morning of Jan. 1. She was unable to be revived by a police officer, and she died a short time later at Dell Children's Medical Center.

According to a police affidavit, witnesses told police they saw a Hispanic male with gold teeth in a black car drop off Martinez and her 15-year-old friend at the house on Lakehurst Drive around 11 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Martinez's friend was interviewed by police and told them the girls were supposed to stay at the South Austin home, but they sneaked out on New Year's Eve to meet a man they met at a bus stop.

The teens went to another home where Mario Hernandez, who the girl called "Joe" lives with his roommate, Garcia-Zavala.

Hernandez, 23, is charged with indecency with a child by contact, a second degree felony punishable by upto 20 years in prison as well as child endangerment.

The 15-year-old told police the girls drank significant amounts of alcohol that night. She says she saw Martinez drink five servings of Grey Goose Vodka and four servings of whiskey.

She also told police the girls were given a substance wrapped in rolling papers which she called "fake marijuana."

The next morning the friend found Sophia on a couch in the men's home unresponsive. She says she asked the men to call 911, but they told her they did not want "any drama" in their house.

After about 30 minutes Hernandez took the girls back to the home on Lakehurst and dropped them off.

Both men were brought in by police detectives and both denied knowing the teens at first. Later they admitted that the girls came over and drank alcohol on New Year's Eve.

Zavala told police he stayed in his room most of the night, but said he paid Hernandez to buy alcohol at the store for him.

The affidavit states that police believe the "defendent Mario Angeles-Hernandez intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engaged in conduct that displaced Sophia's impairment."

Check back for more on this developing story.