A 29-year-old Canyon Lake man who brutally beat and tortured his girlfriend for a week after locking her up in his house will spend the rest of his life behind bars for aggravated kidnapping.
A Comal County jury spent 20 minutes deliberating Friday before finding Zachary Alexander Woods guilty.
22nd District Court Judge Dan Mills presided over Woods’ four-day trial.
Jurors heard harrowing testimony from numerous witnesses including a 911 caller, Canyon Lake Fire/EMS, Ascension Seton-Hays regional hospital, law enforcement, and the victim herself.
According to a statement issued by Comal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp today, on March 29, 2022 police responding to a call from a concerned neighbor found a 19-year-old woman in apparent shock after being beaten and bruised from head to toe.
Officers testified they were taken aback by the extent of the woman’s injuries.
Medical authorities later determined she suffered a Grade 3 spleen laceration, a broken hand, a broken nose, a broken tailbone, and fractures to her back and ribs
At trial, Woods’ former girlfriend testified that in the week leading up to March 29 he held her captive in his home, convinced she was trying to frame him for unspecified crimes and accusing her of infidelity and flirting with his friends.
He interrogated her about these activities and punched her with his fists when she didn’t give him the answer he wanted to hear.
The abuse worsened throughout the week.
Woods hit the woman with a bat, belt and extension cord; stabbed her with a knife; stomped on the back of her head, back, and feet; and waterboarded her.
According to Tharp’s statement:
“The victim talked about the injuries she sustained from her abuse, some of which still remain, such as the dents in her forehead from the defendant repeatedly head-butting her and scars on her back from being hit with an extension cord.
“She testified about the defendant repeatedly punching her in the head before taking a knife and cutting her hair off.
“The defendant stomped the victim on the back of her head, chipping three of her teeth, and burned the side of her face with a cigarette.
“The victim stated at some point Woods stopped using his hands to hit her because his hands began to hurt, and he began hitting her with a bat and a belt.”
The woman was finally able to escape after Woods fell asleep. Although he’d hung a wood chime on a door to alert him if she tried to leave, she was able to move a dresser away from the door and also remove a concrete block and wood from the front door without awakening him.
Comal County Det. Frank Cockrell said the woman was so badly beaten he had to prepare her mother before allowing her to see her daughter at the hospital.
During the subsequent investigation, he said law enforcement recovered 20 audio recordings of the beatings that Woods made on his cellphone over the course of several days.
Those recordings were played to the jury.
The victim testified that she met Woods on Dec. 10, 2021, and they moved in together soon after. Within three months he had broken two of her cellphones, assaulted her on multiple occasions, and threatened her she would not see her son again.
Jurors also heard about Woods’ extensive criminal history including four prior felony convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon between 2012-2013.
After being released from prison in May 2021 he assaulted an ex-girlfriend twice, sending her to the hospital.
While in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Woods incurred repeated disciplinary actions and assaulted a corrections officer.
While in Comal County jail he instigated fights with other inmates.
Tharp asked the jury to sentence Woods to life in prison.
“Because any day less than a life sentence meant that there may be another mom who may receive the call that they need to get to the hospital because of the actions of the defendant,” she said.
“If you are experiencing domestic violence, please reach know that you are not alone and you are not to blame,” Tharp said. “Please reach out to someone. Members of law enforcement, the justice system and the community care and are here to help.”