Mia Zapata

Murderer Convicted

By Alex Steininger (Seattle, WA)

Jesus Mezquia, a 49-year-old Cuban-born man living in Florida, plead not guilty to the charges of first-degree murder for the 1993 death of Seattle-based post-punk outfit The Gits' lead singer Mia Zapata. But on Thursday, March 25, 2004, after a three-day deliberation, the jury delivered the guilty verdict before King County Superior Court Judge Sharon Armstrong. Mezquia now faces 20 years to life in prison for his crimes. Sentencing will be in April.

The trial began March 8, 2004. Mezquia, through DNA evidence, was linked to the murder of Zapata, who was strangled to death with the cord of her sweatshirt on July 7, 1993. Her body was found around 3:20am in the streets of Seattle's Central Area.

Mezquia was arrested in Florida in January 2003 after DNA evidence linked him to Zapata's death. He was charged in February 2003 with first-degree murder and brought to Seattle from Miami in March. He has been held without bail in a King County Corrections Facility since March 2003.

Today, Zapata's friend and former band mate, Steve Moriarty, issued a statement:

"I was in a band called The Gits. We formed in 1986 and moved to Seattle from Ohio in 1989. We released some singles and an album, Frenching the Bully, in 1992. We had just returned to Seattle from a West Coast tour and were finishing our second album, Enter: the Conquering Chicken in July of '93 when our singer, Mia Zapata, was abducted and murdered.

In addition to the police investigation, we hired a private investigator. Every band from Nirvana to Hootie and the Blowfish played benefit shows to help us fund the investigation. The years passed by and few clues were revealed. We never gave up hope that we would find the bastard who killed our friend, plunged our community into fear and ended The Gits.

Unknown to us, the medical examiner who examined Mia's body saved a skin sample surrounding Mia's wounds. In 1993 DNA science was just starting to be used in forensics. The M.E. showed incredible foresight to know that technology would advance to be capable of identifying the man who created the wounds. This DNA sample was put in a national data base of violent felons and matched a guy in Florida. Miami police picked him up and he was extradited to Seattle to face murder charges.

Details of the trial are posted on http://www.thegits.com.