Man gets life for 2006 killing

A man will spend life in prison after pleading guilty on Thursday to the brutal murder of a Hickory woman more than five years ago.

A Superior Court Judge sentenced Antonio Trejo, 32, to life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to killing then-26-year-old Teresa Zavala in July 2006 at the Dogwood Hills Mobile Home Park in Hickory.

Trejo, who is from Mexico, is currently serving a 10-year, nine-month sentence for a different knife attack on a woman in November 2008. He was indicted for Zavala’s murder in spring 2009.

According to state evidence, Trejo went to Zavala’s home on July 29, 2009, and stabbed the woman several times, “severely” cutting her throat, said Assistant District Attorney Sean McGinnis.

“This was a horrendous killing,” McGinnis said.

After the murder in 2006, the investigation had “gotten cold,” and authorities were having a hard time developing leads.

However, in 2008, Trejo was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury for a separate incident. He entered the Department of Correction, and a DNA sample was taken.

That DNA sample matched DNA taken from the scene of the Dogwood Hills murder nearly four years before.

Trejo was subsequently arrested.

The state originally announced that it would seek the death penalty in the case, but the charge was reduced to first-degree murder as part of the plea.