Since 2011, we’ve been involved in the Investigative Industry, specializing in Criminal Defense, Post Conviction, Civil Rights and Forensic Death Investigations. Over the years, we’ve built up a solid reputation based on integrity, quality, and experience.
We are Board Certified in Criminal Defense & Forensic Death Investigations through the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Counsel and the Association for Forensic Investigations. Our investigators pride themselves in participating in continuing education, conferences, lectures and other training opportunities in order to stay up to date on changes regarding Criminal Defense and Forensic Science. In addition to our educational experience, we have worked over 10,000 documented hours in Homicide and Violent Crimes for the defense and private clients, and are also one of the few Trial Phase Death Penalty experienced Investigators in Central Florida.
Our firm specializes in Criminal Defense, Post Conviction, Civil Rights and Forensic Death Investigations. We are proud to provide affordable services, including financing through LawPay, to individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford services.
Let us show you how Zelaya & Associates, Private Investigators can make a difference and why many attorneys and clients turn to us when results are needed.
First Call your Attorney, then Better Call Eric! (SM)
With our investigative resources, we’ve gained the reputation for being the best Private Investigation Firm for Criminal Defense, Civil Rights, Post Conviction, and Forensic Death Investigations. A combination of skilled experts and the latest technology is the reason Zelaya & Associates, Private Investigators is able to ensure the best possible outcome for each case it takes on.
Our firm has great working relationships with Forensic Labs throughout the region which allows us the ability to provide DNA, Gun Shot Residue, Trace Evidence and Toxicology Testing Services for cases. In addition we also utilize 3D Mapping and Photography which provides us the ability to create Forensic Animation utilizing the FARO suite of products.
Because of the time and effort it takes to properly handle complex matters and build relationships with our clients, we do not accept every case. Please schedule a complimentary consultation, as this will allow both client and Investigator to determine whether our firm is the right place for you.
Criminal Defense Investigations
Criminal Defense Investigations is our specialty. With decades of experience in Public Safety Operations and Investigations, Zelaya & Associates are experts in criminal investigations, crime scene analysis, evidence collection/preservation, and law enforcement use of force. Our investigators will painstakingly examine every facet of your client's case to ensure due process and assist you in developing a strong defense. We know how and why law enforcement and prosecutors do what they do because we have investigated hundreds of cases since 2011. Let us show you how Zelaya & Associates, Private Investigators can make a difference in your case. We have over 10,000 documented hours of homicide investigations for the defense, and over 40 years of combined experience. Our firm is a registered Due Process Vendor with both the Justice Administration Commission as well as the Criminal Justice Act (Federal). In addition to investigation services, we also provide Use of Force Expert Testimony, Crime Scene/Forensic Reconstruction and Gang Evidence Consultation. Our firm is also proud to work with The Innocence Clinic at The University of Miami providing Post Conviction Investigation services.
Civil Rights Violations
Throughout history individuals of color, different races, or those living in poverty have been victims of Civil Rights Violations simply because of their background. Many of these individuals, when incarcerated, are faced with staff who play judge, jury and executioner, even after a judge has issued a sentence, in violation of the 8th Amendment. With cases such as The Freedom Summer Murders in 1964, or the recent 215 bodies found burined behind a Mississippi Jail, individuals need a competent investigator to assist with gathering evidence to show their Civil Rights and freedoms have been violated. Our team is experienced with handling such investigations and have worked such cases through Florida and the southeast. When you need justice, look no further than Zelaya & Associates.
Equivocal Death Investigations
Equivocal Death Investigations are those inquiries that are open to interpretation pending further investigation of the facts, victimology and circumstances of the event. The death might appear suspicious or questionable based upon what is presented. For example, a death appears to be suicide but may actually be murder staged to appear to as suicide. An Equivocal Death Investigation should include an extensive and thoroughly documented analysis of the body recovery scene, the autopsy, the forensic evidence, laboratory tests, and the victimology and behavioral history of the deceased. This detailed and complex investigative process can aid in determining the manner of death which is different than the cause of death. “Cause of death” is a term used to indicate the medical cause of death. It lists the diseases or injuries that caused death. “Manner of death” is the way to categorize death. For example, a person’s cause of death might be asphyxiation but the manner of death might be accidental or suicide.
Meet the Team
Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator
Board Certified Forensic Death Investigator
Eric Zelaya is the Owner and Chief Investigator of Zelaya & Associates, Private Investigators. Eric is a Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator and a Board Certified Forensic Death Investigator specializing in Criminal Defense, Post Conviction, and Forensic Death Investigations and has been a licensed Private Investigator since 2011. Eric is also one of the few trial phase death penalty experienced investigators in Central Florida. Eric has had the opportunity to work with some of the most high profile attorneys in Florida and has built a reputation as a competent and experienced investigator. Since 2011, Eric has worked over 10,000 documented hours of investigation for Homicides and other Violent Crimes.
Prior to becoming a Private Investigator, Eric worked for the Florida Department of Corrections as a State Law Enforcement Officer, where he was assigned to the C-Shift Gang Investigations Unit. During his time at FDOC, he conducted and assisted in investigations involving gangs, assaults, homicides and contraband trafficking. Eric is a recognized gang consultant and has been a consultant for WKMG News Channel 6 in Orlando, Behind The Law with Justin Clark, and various attorneys in Central Florida. Eric holds Undergraduate Certificates in Criminal Psychology and Criminology as well as Technical Certificates in Medicolegal Death Investigations through the Texas A&M University, and Gang & Narcotics Investigation Certificates through the Multi Jurisdictional Counter Drug Task Force.
Eric is also an Investigator for the Cold Case Foundation, which provides investigation support and analysis to law enforcement agencies in cold case homicides, missing persons and rape/sexual assaults with serial characteristics.
Retired Homicide Detective
Jerry Lyons has more than 40 years experience in criminal investigations, first for the prosecution and now for the defense.
Jerry has had the honor of being the lead investigator for several high profile cases where he brought forth a successful defense allowing his clients to enjoy new found freedom.
Jerry was the Lead Defense Investigator in the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando, Florida. Casey was falsely accused of murdering her two year old daughter. She spent three years in jail before an honest jury found her "Not Guilty". Jerry has also been the Lead Defense Investigator for the Aaron Hernandez double murder case in Boston, Massachusetts, the Gary Giordano murder case in Aruba as well as the William Husel "Doctor Murder" case in Ohio, in which a doctor was accused of murdering 14 patients with Fentanyl. Jerry is a frequent guest contributor on CNN and HLN news and travels the United States conducting Wrongful Conviction and Criminal Defense Investigations. Jerry retired from the NYPD after 20 years as a Detective where he spent a majority of his time investigating Homicides, Sexual Assaults and Robberies.
Jerry is also an acclaimed author and has recently released the "Ricky Burns" mystery series, now available on Amazon and bookstores around the United States.
Through our case studies, we hope to portray various examples of past successes in all kinds of cases, large and small. Cases are also a great way for prospective clients to learn more about the way our Private Investigation Firm operates. Zelaya & Associates, Private Investigators go the extra mile to make sure our clients are completely satisfied with what we provide.
State of Florida v. Simmons
After being charged with First Degree Murder, this client decided to work with Zelaya & Associates to get to the bottom of the murder charge. After a brief consultation meeting, it was clear that an experienced investigative plan would accurately provide the client with all the answers they were looking for. We were right - after a thorough investigation our client was found Not Guilty of all charges and justice was served.
State of Florida v. Williams
Our firm was retained after a client was arrested on 1st Degree Murder charges ,after allegedly killing her boyfriend. Our investigators immediately got to work interviewing witnesses, many of whom could not keep their stories straight, as well as collecting certified felony convictions for impeachment purposes. During the investigation we uncovered that the firearm used in the murder had a serious defect which allowed it to fire without the trigger being pulled, which matched up to the clients statement and testimony of an accidental shooting. A jury saw the evidence and our client was found not guilty.
State of Florida v. Joseph
Our client was charged with 3 counts of 1st Degree Murder and was facing the Death Penalty for a crime he did not commit. Zelaya & Associates was retained by the defendants court appointed counsel and immediately got to work on the investigation. From trips to tough areas in Miami, to the West Coast of Florida, we interviewed numerous witnesses, examined hours of video and evidence and drafted pages of investigative reports. After an exhausting 2 years investigation, not only did the Prosecutor drop the Death Penalty, our client was cleared of all charges and is now a free man, while the actual suspects are now behind bars.
5360 Curry Ford Road
Orlando, Florida 32812
Mon - Fri
8:30 am – 5:30 pm
9:00 am – 5:00 pm