Jury to decide fate of Manatee triple murderer Andres Avalos

Convicted murderer Andres Avalos in court on Monday.
Convicted murderer Andres Avalos in court on Monday.

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Over the weekend, a Manatee County jury convicted Andres Avalos Jr. of three murders. Now, the jury will decide his fate.

Avalos was found guilty of murdering his wife, Amber Avalos, age 33, their neighbor Denise Potter, age 46, and their pastor James “Tripp” Battle, age 31,  in December of 2014.

He was found guilty of first-degree murder for the deaths of Potter and Battle, and was found guilty of second-degree murder for the death of his wife.

On Monday, family members of the slain victims took the stand to explain to the jury how their lives have changed because of Avalos’s actions that day.

“Life is so different, and I feel like I’m lost so much,” said Pastor Battle’s sister Ashley Battle.

His widow, Joy Battle, also took the stand with a prepared statement. Crying, she explained to the jury how she still has to hold her children as they cry out for their father.

“My daughter misses him so much,” she says breaking down in tears.

“I’ve spent countless nights crying myself to sleep, unable to even enter the leaving room because he’s not there.”

Meanwhile, the defense called several members of the Avalos family to the stand including his father, Andres Avalos, Sr. He described how he and his wife raised five children together, including Andres Jr, but says there was about an 8-year period where they weren’t very good parents.

He also explained to the jury that they had tried several times to get Avalos help with his drug and alcohol problems.

The jury began deliberating shortly before 4 p.m. on Monday.

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