State seeks death penalty

The District Attorney's Office will seek the death penalty against a man charged in the 2006 stabbing death of a Hickory woman.

Prosecutors announced Monday in Catawba County Superior Court that they will pursue capital punishment in the first-degree murder charge against Antonio Gonzalez Trejo, 31, of Conover. Trejo is charged with fatally wounding Teresa Aguilera Zavala, 26, of Hickory, on July 29, 2006, by stabbing her repeatedly with a knife.

Trejo appeared in court Monday morning wearing a neon green jumpsuit with shackles at the waist and hands. Trejo's lawyer and a translator stood on either side of Trejo as he appeared before Superior Court Judge Richard Boner.

A Catawba County Grand Jury indicted Trejo on June 14 for murder, which is almost four years since the crime occurred. He is in Catawba County Jail under no bond.

Trejo was serving a sentence at the North Carolina Department of Corrections at the time of his June arrest in the Zavala murder. He was previously charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill/inflicting serious injury.

Trejo's attorney asked Boner for additional time in Trejo's case to prepare a Racial Justice Act filing. Gov. Bev Perdue signed the Racial Justice Act into law in August 2009. The act prohibits using a defendants' race to determine whether they will face the death penalty.

Prosecutors have 30 days to file a response to the Racial Justice Act motion once it is filed.

Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said the incident started more than four years ago when Trejo forced entry into Zavala's residence, located in a trailer park on Highland Avenue in Hickory.

Reid said Trejo was brought to Catawba County for questioning in June and confessed, through the assistance of a translator, to killing Zavala.

Reid said Trejo also confessed to a similar stabbing crime.

Reid declined to comment about Trejo's motive for killing Zavala, saying he wanted to discuss the situation further with the district attorney before releasing that information.