A jury on Thursday handed down a 30-year-sentence for the man who caused a crash that killed his girlfriend who was also his former probation officer.
David Zavala was convicted Tuesday on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the October 2014 death of Cynthia Mendoza, 43.
Zavala ran a red light at Fred Wilson Blvd. and Dyer St. in Northeast El Paso, flipping his Ford pickup truck. Mendoza, his passenger, died a few days later in the hospital. Despite being accused of driving drunk, Zavala—who was 25 years old at the time—was not indicted for intoxication manslaughter.
Following Thursday’s sentencing, Mendoza’s family read victim impact statements. With tears in her eyes, Mendoza’s mother held up photos of her daughter.
The family seemed distraught as they left the courtroom, shaking their heads.
“They are still upset,” said prosecutor Denise Butterworth. “30, 40, 50 years, this is still not going to bring back their daughter, their sister,” she said.
Zavala had faced anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison. Attorneys with both the prosecution and the defense said they respect the jury’s sentence.
According to investigators, Mendoza and Zavala began their relationship in 2013 while he was under her watch at the West Texas Supervision and Corrections Department.
Defense attorney Sergio Saldivar said officials with the department should have put a stop to the romance.
“We just feel that somebody should have taken action,” Saldivar said. “Hopefully, the outcome of this case can send a message.”