DALLAS — A Dallas court granted a measure of justice for the family of murdered Gainesville woman Heather Lynn Franklin when it convicted 29-year-old Fernando Zapata of capital murder Tuesday.

Zapata was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Lane Jackson said this morning.

Zapata shot Franklin, 22, and left her body on Sargent Road in East Oak Cliff on Memorial Day 2008. Franklin had been riding in a car with her cousin Flora Franklin when Zapata when the three reportedly began arguing.

Prosectors believe Zapata shot Heather Franklin — who was four months pregnant — after she tried to intervene in a confrontation between her cousin and Zapata.

Zapata later abandoned both his car and his girlfriend before heading to a convenience store to call 911.

Police knew Zapata has ties to Mexico and feared he might try to flee the country.

They began a search for Zapata which included stops at southwest Dallas bus stations and requests for patrol officers to be on the lookout for the fugitive.

He was arrested after boarding a bus bound for Laredo, according to a May 28, 2008 story posted on the Dallas Morning News website.

Zapata has a lengthy criminal history which includes drug and weapons charges.

Friends and family of the slain woman still drive vehicles which bear decals with her name, date of birth and the date of her murder along with the words “We miss you” in white Gothic letters.

A relative of Franklin’s declined to comment when contacted by phone about Tuesday’s verdict.

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