death penalty news----S.C., FLA.
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Rick Halperin
2017-05-21 21:30:17 UTC
May 21


The death penalty is not conservative

Like many conservatives, I used to support the death penalty, and like most
people I wasn't fully informed of capital punishment's implications and risks.
Nor did I ever consider that human error might result in wrongful convictions
and death sentences. As my perspective changed and I learned more about the
death penalty's failures, I've concluded that it should be repealed.

There are many reasons many Americans are beginning to oppose the death
penalty, but the biggest reason for me is the massive price tag. Capital cases
can easily cost $3 million, which is far more expensive than life without
parole. The steep cost is largely due to mandated legal proceedings that are
unique to capital cases, which guarantee that the process is complex and

Beyond the colossal price tag, I can't help but think of victims' families.
With every appeal and retrial, they are forced to relive the tragedy over
again, continuously reopening a wound that needs to heal. The death penalty too
often harms rather than helps victims' families, and it also fails to serve
society as a whole. Numerous studies have concluded that there is no proof that
the threat of an execution deters murder.

(source: Samantha Bonsack; Letter to the Editor, The State)


Andres "Andy" Avalos found guilty of 3 murders - now faces death penalty or
life in prison

Andres "Andy" Avalos has been found guilty of 3 counts of murder in the Dec. 4,
2014, slayings of his wife Amber Avalos, 33; neighbor Denise Potter, 46; and
the Rev. James "Tripp" Battle III, 31.

The courtroom was calm after 13 hours of deliberations, and the jury delivered
their verdict at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Families of the 3 victims had waited for more than 2 years for justice.

Avalos was found guilty of 2 1st-degree counts of murder in the deaths of
Potter and Battle. He was found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in the death of his
wife, Amber.

He now faces the death penalty or life in prison.

Avalos showed no emotions but drummed his fingers as the verdict was read.

The jury will return at 8:30 a.m. Monday to begin the penalty phase.

Amber Avalos returned to the couple's home in the 1200 block of 67th Street
Northwest in Bradenton from dropping off some of their children at school on
the morning of Dec. 4, 2014, when the couple began to argue in the kitchen over
his being out drinking the night before.

Avalos became enraged when she told him that she was not afraid of him or to

"I have never put my hands on that woman in 16 years," Avalos later told lead
homicide detectives Jeffrey Bliss and John Kenney following his arrest. "When I
put my hands on her that was it."

He punched her multiple times and threw her on the floor of the laundry room.
Avalos straddled her, kissed her on the forehead, said I love you and then
strangled her with a wire before partially suspending her - wanting to "make
sure" she was dead.

Avalos went to get his .45 caliber pistol and returned to the laundry room -
afraid that Amber might be playing dead - and shot her once.

The couple's then 4-year-old son was home playing video games when Amber Avalos
and Potter were killed. He asked Avalos where his "mommy" was but saw only her
feet when she lay dead in the laundry room.

Avalos told him it was time to go to school and was loading him into the
couple's gold 2003 Chevrolet Suburban when Potter showed up because she and
Amber were scheduled to go clean a house together.

"I knew she was going to call the cops, and I wasn't ready for the police to
come yet," Avalos said.

He followed Potter into the home, leaving his son in the Suburban. Potter,
failing to find Amber in the bedroom, was headed down the hallway toward the
laundry room, Avalos said.

Avalos said he didn't want Potter to see his dead wife, so he shot her in the

"I don't know how many times I shot her," he said.

Then Avalos took his son to the Happy Cubs Daycare, making sure to tell him he
loved him on the way and becoming sad after saying goodbye to the boy, he said.

He then headed out east, making a stop to see his cousins to tell them what he
had done and that he loved them, he said. Avalos didn't know if his cousins had
believed him, but they had given him some money.

He ended up leaving his vehicle at Walmart, knowing that soon enough law
enforcement would be searching for it.

"After what I did, I just wanted to sit in the back seat of a cab and relax,"
Avalos said.

When detectives asked him when he had formulated his plan to kill Battle,
Avalos said, "Months," and chuckled.

At one point he said he vomited just outside the taxi cab because he had been
drinking the night before. Avalos also admitted to using cocaine the day before
the murders and taking a painkiller that morning for his hangover.

The taxi dropped Avalos at a shopping center near Bayshore Baptist, and he read
passages from his bible. He then waited, watching for Battle to arrive at the
church, knowing that the pastor's car was not there.

After some time, however, Avalos decided to go into the church office and speak
with Battle's wife. But first he made a phone call to his uncle, Lt. Joel
Perez, with the sheriff's office.

"I said hey, you need to go to my house, get your boys over there. There's 2
people laying down over there," Avalos said.

The widow's short but vivid recollection took the jurors to the grounds of the
Bayshore Baptist Church, 6502 14th St. W., Bradenton, where Avalos shot his
final victim.

Joy Battle was working in the church office at about 12:45 p.m. when Avalos
came in, she testified Wednesday. She sat with him as he began to share his
suspicions that their spouses were having an affair with one another. During
that time, her husband called and asked if everything was OK after learning
Avalos was there. She said she didn't know.

Avalos had made the accusations months before that her husband was having an
affair with Amber Avalos, Joy Battle said. But she had told him she had no
reason to believe it and offered to pray with him.

Her husband arrived at the church within minutes of their phone call, and Joy
Battle recalled saying, "Andy, Tripp is here so you can talk to him now."

Avalos got up, walked out and closed the door behind him, she testified. Her
husband was on the sidewalk as Avalos approached him.

"He pulled a gun from behind his back and he shot him 3 times and he fell to
the floor," Battle's widow said, her voice trembling. She began to cry.

Joy Battle recalled her husband crying out in pain and her own screams, and she
said she took a split second to decide whether to run to him or call 911.

"I thought the best chance he had at living was if I called 911, so I went to
my phone and called 911," she said. "I was on the phone with 911, and Andy came
back and shot him again."

Avalos walked away from the scene, contemplating "doing more things" like
stealing a car or "going out with you guys in a blazing glory," he later told
Bliss and Kenney. Avalos decided otherwise and after seeing a deputy pass him
along 14th Street, he quickly ducked into a nearby small wooded area where he
would hide for the next 2 days, coming out only to buy Pringles, a soda and a

What ensued was a 51-hour manhunt led by the sheriff's office to find Avalos -
considered armed and dangerous at the time.

The frantic search included an alert for Avalos' gold 2003 Chevrolet Suburban -
later found at the Walmart - and Palma Sola and Miller elementary schools, King
Middle School and Manatee High School were locked down as deputies rushed to
take custody of the Avalos' children, fearing for their safety.

Early on the morning of Dec. 6, 2014, Andres Avalos Sr. made a public plea at
an impromptu press conference at the sheriff's office. The elder Avalos pleaded
that his son turn himself in for the sake of his 6 children, who were in
protective custody at the time.

A few hours later, the highly sought suspect walked onto the wooden deck behind
a mobile home in the Pine Haven Mobile Home Park, 6320 14th St. W., just a
couple of blocks from the Bayshore Baptist Church.

At about 1 p.m., Melissa and Jerry Hamilton - who lived in Pine Haven - were
singing Christian hymns in preparation for a function at their church that
evening. Melissa stood in the kitchen, and Jerry sat in the living room as he
began to sing the popular Christian song, "I Can Only Imagine," she recalled
for the jury. Suddenly through the sliding glass door, she saw Avalos walk onto
their wooden deck.

"Can I help you?": she said to Avalos.

They called 911 and left their home as instructed by a dispatcher.

News quickly broke that Avalos was captured after a caravan of deputies and
detectives screeched down U.S. 41 to the mobile home - a sign many hoped that
Avalos had finally been located. Deputies and detectives drew their guns and
semiautomatic rifles, held up their shields as residents of the quiet mobile
home park watched in shock. Avalos was arrested without resisting.

Avalos was quickly taken to the sheriff's office headquarters. In the hours
that followed, he would give Bliss and Kenney his detailed confession which a
jury watched for about 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon.

(source: bradenton.com)

A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu

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