Elko woman guilty of 2nd degree-murder in daughter’s death
ELKO, Nev. (AP) — An Elko County woman has been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of her adult daughter after prosecutors say she “snapped” and strangled the 24-year-old with autism because of pent up emotional stress from serving as her primary caregiver for decades.
Elko County Deputy District Attorney Justin Barainca had asked jurors to find Judith Zavala, 62, guilty of first-degree murder before the jury returned the verdict on the lesser charge Thursday in the 2020 death, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.
He said she told police her daughter, April, 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 that Judith Zavala 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.
She struggled with April when she tried to get her out of bed and dress her, she told police. When her daughter stopped breathing and fell to the floor, the mother “panicked” and didn’t call 911, according to the court documents.
The death was discovered after Zavala’s husband returned home from a fishing trip with their son.