Missing college student killed during drug deal, documents state

TODD MISSION, Texas (KTRK) -- New details were revealed in the death of a 21-year-old college student from Katy, whose body was found one year after he was reported missing.

Erik Aguilar, 22, one of four people charged in connection with the death of Zuhyr Kaleem, faced a judge for the first time overnight.

While in court, it was revealed that Aguilar and another man met with Kaleem to buy drugs on April 2019. Investigators say an argument broke out during the purchase and Aguilar shot Kaleem. Aguilar claimed Kaleem started the fight and pulled a gun on them. Aguilar added he simply tried to get the gun away from Kaleem but it went off.

Two other men - Jose Varela and Austin Walker, both 21 - were charged with capital murder. HCSO said both admitted to their involvement in Kaleem's killing.

Court documents also revealed that after the shooting, Aguilar called his friend Gannon Gotlieb, 23, to help him dispose of the body, while Varela allegedly took Kaleem's car and dumped it in Mexico.

Deemed as missing, Kaleem's family told ABC13 he was last seen alive on April 26, 2019, near Greenhouse Road and FM 529. His family reported him missing a couple of days later. He was a Lone Star College student who had hoped to attend the University of Houston.

But on Tuesday, the search for Kaleem came to an end when the Harris County Sheriff's Office said its homicide investigators, Texas Rangers and deputies in Grimes County were led to his body along Loblolly Lane near Todd Mission, which is about an hour northwest of Houston. The scene is also about 4.5 miles from the popular Renaissance Fest fairgrounds. SkyEye was over the property late Tuesday morning as investigators looked around the wooded and grassy area.

Gotlieb was also arrested and charged with tampering with evidence/human body. According to the sheriff's office, he lives on the property where the body was found and admitted to burying it. Gotlieb is being held in the Grimes County jail.

In Harris County, prosecutors are asking a judge to deny bond for Varela, Walker and Aguilar due to the gravity of their charges.

But during Wednesday's court appearance, Aguilar's bond was set at $200,000.

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