The jury in the Andres “Andy” Avalos Jr. murder trial will continue their deliberations Saturday on whether he is guilty of murdering wife Amber Avalos, 33; neighbor Denise Potter, 46; and the Rev. James “Tripp” Battle III, 31.
Or, as his attorneys argued Friday, he was insane at the time of the killings.
Avalos is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 4, 2014 slayings.
If convicted, the state will seek the death penalty.
After deliberating for eight hours, the jury of 14 asked to retire for the evening and were ordered under sequestration and will return at 8:30 a.m. Saturday to continue.
The courtroom was packed Friday morning, with members of the three victims’ families, as well as Avalos’ family and detectives in the case.
At 12:11 p.m. Friday, the jurors were walked back to the jury room to begin their deliberations.
The 14 jurors — including two alternates, who will return should there be a penalty phase — listened intently for more than two hours as Assistant State Attorney Art Brown and defense attorney Andrew Crawford presented their closing arguments.
“We submit to you that we have established by overwhelming evidence, that this man murdered Amber Avalos, Denise Potter and James “Tripp” Battle with a cold brutality, and not from a delusion but formed out of jealously fueled by months of drugs and alcohol abuse,” Brown said as he pointed to Avalos.
Crawford later told the jury that what Brown had told them was not evidence, but rather the state’s interpretation of the evidence.
“I ask you to turn that page and look at it from our perspective, as well as the state’s perspective,” Crawford said.
Avalos was suffering from a delusional disorder, he said. His delusions were “increasing and increasing” in the months leading up to the slayings, despite his family’s failed attempts to get him help.
His delusions made him think someone was trying to kill him, and that his wife was having an affair with Battle, his former gang rivals and Avalos’ father, Crawford said.
In his rebuttal, Brown told the jury that Crawford did not address the second prong needed for a successful insanity defense, that he didn’t understand his actions were criminal or morally wrong.
Avalos knew what he did was wrong, Brown said, because he told detectives that he was prepared to go out in a “blaze of glory” with them.
“They’re not his enemies. They’re not having an affair with his wife, yet he is preparing for a shootout with them,” Brown said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there is no need for intellectual gymnastics to understand what happened in this case,” Brown told jurors, concluding his rebuttal. “He’s a jealous guy taking enormous amounts of drugs and alcohol for a period of years, and that is a dangerous add-mixture of circumstances that doesn’t require a mental disorder to result in violence.”