Zaylen Gonzalez loved fishing with his grandfather.
He also enjoyed filching a piece of candy from his grandmother’s stash.
Going to the family ranch was a treat since he got to feed the cows.
Working with cars with his grandfather and father was another pleasure for the 3-year-old boy as was just being outside, getting messy, and having fun.
His fun ended on a Tuesday night in August when he was struck by an alleged drunk driver while playing in a driveway and was not out in the roadway when the incident occurred. The 800 block of West George has several shops for rent with driveways, and that is where the child was playing
Noe Rodriguez Paez, 52, of Corpus Christi, was arrested on Aug. 18 and charged with intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony in Texas.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Calvin Anderle set bond for Paez at $1 million. On Sept. 15 the bond was reduced to $500,000, and Paez made bail.
“We didn’t know anything until they called us at 2 p.m. and told us he made bond,” said Christina Castillo, godmother to Zayen.
Calhoun County District Attorney Dan Heard said Paez’s attorneys requested a contested hearing on the bond and filed a motion to reduce.
“It didn’t go to a hearing. We worked out an agreement that allowed many supervision points; 28 of them,” he said.
The $1 million bail, Heard said, was “way above what you see in most places for a second-degree felony and above for most first-degree felonies.”
A grand jury has not yet heard the case.
“If I had had a chance to speak to the DA, I would have told him I didn’t want the bail reduced and for him to get out at all,” said Castillo. “He had two prior DWIs, and this was going to be his third, so why is he going to be out?”
The bail reduction agreement reached included supervisory conditions not usually given as part of bail.
“While he’s out on bond, he has to follow the rules of felony probation,” said Heard. The rules include 11 additional special conditions.
A SCRAM device providing continuous alcohol monitoring was ordered to be worn by Paez and paid for before his release.
Paez must have a deep lung breath analysis mechanism with a camera installed on the vehicle he owns or uses the most, and it must stay there until the court removes it.
Special conditions also include monitoring of a GPS device, a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, not leaving the state or county without permission, submitting to drug/alcohol screening or assessment as directed at his expense, and reporting to Community Supervision and Corrections Department.
Felony probation supervision includes the curfew, not entering premises where alcohol is served with a restaurant the exception; keep the supervision department informed on employment and income weekly; take random drug test weekly at his expense; and not associate with people know to be drug dealers, users, parolees, probationers, on bond or those with a reputation for violating the law; and to not consume alcohol or illegal drugs or prescription drugs not prescribed to him.
“This is a serious case, the death of a child,” said Heard. “That factored into the conditions put upon him. Ordinarily, there is no pre-trial supervision, but here we got the conditions.”
Castillo said Paez had spoken to her husband about getting some mechanic work done but had not set up a day or time. “He just showed up,” she said of the night Zayen died.
Port Lavaca Police Chief Colin Rangnow said the child was playing in the driveway and was not out in the roadway when the incident occurred around 8 p.m. Aug. 18. He was transported to Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is pending in Travis County.
“He was drunk. He murdered a child and didn’t want to stop. The fact that he did not want to stop is what hurts the most. He wanted to keep going, but my husband yelled and chased him,” said Castillo.
“It’s been hard on all of us,” she said. “He’s not my biological son, but he has been a big part of my life ever since he was born. We are so upset the bond got reduced, but there’s not much we can do.”