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Verdict returned in Zavala murder trial

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ELKO – An Elko woman was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her adult daughter more than a year ago.

Jurors in the trial of Judith Zavala returned the verdict on Thursday before Elko District Judge Al Kacin. She was charged with one count of open murder.

April Zavala, 24, died on June 14, 2020 from strangulation, according to an autopsy conducted by the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s office.

In an interview with police after April’s death, Judith explained her daughter was a high-functioning autistic, but changes in April’s behavior and incontinence in previous months prompted Judith to give round-the-clock care.

Public defender Kelsey Angeley told jurors in opening statements on Oct. 7 that Judith had not left her home in two years and “broke” on the day of April’s death after “years of exhaustion” and “months of desperation” being her daughter’s sole caregiver and attending to her special needs without support.

Judith, 62, told police April had declined and was unable to communicate. On the day in question, she was helping April get dressed in their bedroom when April became “agitated” and insisted on dressing herself. At that point Judith said she “snapped” and strangled her daughter until she stopped breathing.

Elko County Deputy District Attorney Justin Barainca asked jurors to find Judith guilty of first-degree murder.

A sentencing date is pending.

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