Houston man accused of killing ex-girlfriend removed from courtroom for 2nd day in a row

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, July 16, 2021
Man accused of killing ex removed from courtroom again
An outburst caused a murder suspect to be removed from court. On the following day for a follow-up hearing, the same suspect was again removed from a courtroom, and it was caught on video.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man, who had seven bonds when police say he killed his ex-girlfriend and wounded her son, once again had to be removed from a courtroom for an outburst in front of a judge Friday morning. Of his seven bonds, five of those are for felony charges.

Just the day before, 27-year-old Zacchaeus Rashad Gaston had to be removed inside Harris County Probable Cause Court as he made an outburst toward the judge and prosecutor.

On Friday, he was restrained by deputies almost as soon as he entered the courtroom, faced the judge momentarily, and then removed. The latest courtroom video can be seen in the player above.

Perhaps as a consequence of his actions in court, Gaston's bond amounts were increased, with his murder charge going from $1 million to $5 million, and his aggravated assault with a deadly weapon count going up from $500,000 to $3 million.

Video of Thursday's outburst and removal can be seen in the player below.

A man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend while she was holding her 1-year-old child was removed from a courtroom as he delivered an outburst toward the judge. That scene plays out in the video above.

"I'm innocent until I'm proven guilty," Gaston told the court Thursday during a hearing in which those charged with crimes typically are warned to remain silent.

"Don't talk about me," he added as his charges and the details behind them were read. The prosecutor painted a picture of a cold-blooded killer.

"According to the warrant, the adult complainant was already on the ground when he fired one shot into her torso," she said. "He then was seen standing over her firing four to five more shots into the complainant's body before he fled the scene."

Gaston was taken into custody early Thursday morning in the death of 24-year-old Layla Steele in the Westchase area on July 1.

An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers led to his arrest.

According to police, officers responded to the shooting at an apartment complex located at 11212 Westpark Drive. Authorities said it started as a domestic dispute between Gaston and Steele outside the apartment complex.

Witnesses reportedly saw the couple engaged in a physical altercation before Gaston allegedly shot Steele and her 1-year-old son and fled the scene.

When officials arrived, Steele was in critical condition. Emergency personnel gave her CPR and were able to get her pulse, but she later died at the hospital.

ORIGINAL STORY: Mother killed, 1-year-old wounded in domestic violence shooting incident in Westchase area

According to police, a bullet struck her baby boy's ankle. The child, Zeus, was also transported to the hospital.

Family told ABC13 that Gaston is Zeus' father. Officials said the man had an ankle monitor. However, it's unclear if he was wearing the device at the time of the shooting.

Steele had a protective order against Gaston, according to family. Gaston was charged with violating the protective order in April of this year.

Court records show Gaston was charged with assault on a family member after he allegedly hit Steele in the head with a plastic bottle and threatened her with a gun during a dispute in September 2020.

That case was dismissed by the court on June 29, 2021.

"We wonder what could we have done to prevent this. Once again, we don't want to put any fault anywhere, however, with the suspect being out on bond for seven (charges including) major felonies, this could have been prevented," said HPD Asst. Chief Patricia Cantu earlier this month.

Family set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for baby Zeus' medical expenses.

GET HELP: If you need help getting out of a domestic violence situation, call the Houston Area Women's Center 24/7 hotline at 713-528-2121 or call AVDA at 713-224-9911. You can also click here to chat with an advocate online. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and need help, call 713-528-3625.

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