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This murder trial was set 3 years after the victim was found shot to death. It’s now been delayed

It’s been three years since Carly Andrews, 26, was shot to death in Gainesville. Last week, the murder trial was delayed due to the serious illness of a witness.

Christopher Vargas-Zayas, 23, was scheduled for trial the week of Aug. 30, concerning the Sept. 6, 2018, shooting death of Andrews. Gainesville Police said Vargas-Zayas was Andrews’ boyfriend.

Defense attorney David West filed a motion to continue the case based on the “grave medical condition” of its expert witness, who is a firearms examiner.

According to the Aug. 17 motion, the witness was in the intensive care unit and had a poor prognosis.

West said he is hopeful for a full recovery.

Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden granted the motion, and a representative from the judge’s office said the case was on a short list for a possible trial later this month.

Gainesville Police responded Sept. 6, 2018, to the Glenn Cove Apartments, where Andrews was found shot in the chest.

Police said it was initially reported as a self-inflicted gunshot or accidental shooting, but ultimately Vargas-Zayas was charged. Since then, police have not said what led them to charge Vargas-Zayas, and

Christopher Vargas Zayas.jpg
Christopher Vargas Zayas
West previously told The Times his client asserted it was accidental.

Though he did not want to discuss his theory of the case, West said there will be discussion of the fact that “this all occurred while a handgun was being cleaned.”

West also filed a motion Aug. 13 seeking to “prohibit prejudicial displays” of Andrews’ name and likeness. According to the motion, the defense is asking the court to restrict “any persons from entering and remaining” within the courthouse “during the trial of this case with items or clothing” displaying the woman’s name or likeness.

West’s motion mentioned seeing family members and friends of Andrews with buttons showing Andrews’ face at prior hearings.

West wrote his concern was that jurors could be influenced by these displays and be prejudicial to the defense, as it could possibly “tug on the heartstrings” of jurors.

“There is no manifest necessity nor right existing in Georgia law for persons to utilize the courtroom as a place … of expression, whether of solidarity against a criminal defendant or with the state of Georgia,” according to the motion.

West clarified in his motion that he does not seek to exclude anyone from attending the trial but wishes to prohibit these displays.