Consuelo Zavala convicted of gruesome onion-field execution
The police report said Gasca had been shot eight times, including five bullets in the head, but in the year since then, this deadly count changed. Gasca is now said to have been shot ten times -- a number that no doubt factored in to a jury's decision to convict Zavala on a first-degree murder charge. Details, photos and the original arrest affidavit below.
At about 8:30 a.m. on August 25, 1997, as we've reported, Weld County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to an onion field in the area of Highway 66 and Weld County Road 19 in Platteville. The arrest affidavit says law enforcers tried to save Gasca, 28 -- but he was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
There were no shortage of witnesses working in the field, and all of them identified the shooter as Consuelo. But they also pointed to the involvement of Antonio Caudillo-Zavala, Consuelo's dad.
A number of those who spoke with investigators, including family members of Gasca, said Antonio and the victim had gotten into an altercation the previous Saturday, two days before the killing. Prosecutors with the 19th Judicial District DA's office described what happened as a fight in which Consuelo's brother was beaten up but not severely injured. They added that while Gasca watched what happened, he didn't take part in the assault.
Afterward, Antonio allegedly told Francisco, "We'll settle this in the fields." Then, the next day, Francisco is said to have been hard at work when Antonio drove up in his truck and asked him to go for a ride. Francisco declined, and none of the witnesses describe another dust-up between the men over this refusal. But that didn't mean the beef was over.
The next day, the affidavit maintains, Antonio came to work drunk, and after spotting Francisco, he told him to get a gun and defend himself. Francisco replied that he didn't need a gun for that purpose, even though witnesses said Antonio was armed. Several later talked about him holding the weapon at his side.
At that point, according to the narrative, Consuelo arrived in a truck of his own -- and seconds after dismounting, he shoved Francisco before shooting him several times from a distance of about eight feet away. But the bloodshed that resulted apparently wasn't enough. Consuelo is said to have stepped over a ditch and pumped more bullets into Francisco, until his gun was empty -- after which he reloaded, although he didn't fire again.
Not that it was necessary to spend more bullets -- not with five of them striking Gasca in the head.
Continue to read more about the Consuelo Zavala case, as well as to see an interactive graphic of the area near the crime scene and the arrest affidavit.