Ganado man charged with felony murder of his girlfriend
March 17, 2014 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated March 17, 2014 at 10:18 p.m.
A Ganado man who phoned law enforcement to tell them his girlfriend was dead in a ditch will be arraigned Tuesday on a charge of felony murder.
Robert Vince Vasquez, 27, also faces charges of intoxication manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury or death and tampering or fabricating physical evidence, Wharton County District Attorney Ross Kurtz said Monday.
A grand jury returned the indictments on March 10.
Wharton County Sheriff's Office deputies found Abigail Zapata, 25, also of Ganado, about 7 a.m. Dec. 11. She was in a ditch on state Highway 71, one mile south of Farm-to-Market Road 2674 near El Campo.
Kurtz said she was hit hours before law enforcement received the call.
Vasquez also tried to conceal the vehicle that struck Zapata, a 2007 Cadillac Escalade, during the subsequent investigation, according to the indictment.
"The evidence that we have right now does not make it appear to be a premeditated act, which would make it straight murder versus felony murder," Kurtz said. "However, both of them are first-degree felonies with the same punishment range if convicted."
First-degree felonies carry a punishment of 5 to 99 years or life in prison. A $10,000 fine could also be assessed.
The state will also need to prove at trial that Vasquez has two prior driving while intoxicated convictions, Kurtz said.
In 2003, Vasquez pleaded guilty to DWI in Jackson County and was sentenced to six months in jail.
In 2004, he pleaded guilty to DWI second offense in Jackson County and was sentenced to nine months in jail, according to publicdata.com.
Wharton County Sheriff's Office Lt. Raymond Jansky said Vasquez was the one to alert law enforcement about his girlfriend's death, according to an earlier report.
When asked whether he thought the phone call was unusual Monday, Kurtz said, "No two cases are ever the same. Unfortunately, when it comes to crimes this serious, nothing surprises me anymore," he said.
Vasquez is being held in the Wharton County Jail. His bond is set at $1 million.