BRADENTON -- Andres "Andy" Avalos Jr. will stand trial in October on charges that he attempted to murder a fellow jail inmate.
Avalos has been in jail awaiting trial on three first-degree murder charges. He is charged in the slayings of his wife, Amber Avalos, 33; neighbor, Denise Potter, 46; and the Rev. James "Tripp" Battle, 31, in December 2014. He is now facing charges in the attempted first-degree murder of Jesse "Green Eyes" Cruz.
On Dec. 7, deputies at the Manatee County jail say Avalos, tired of former fellow gang member Cruz bringing up things from the past, attacked him with two sharpened toothbrushes in the head, face and neck. Within 47 seconds, deputies entered the day room area
of the pod where the attack was taking place.
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Avalos admitted to the attack and his motivation in jail house calls soon after, according to detectives.
Cruz, 35, was at the Manatee County jail awaiting a resentencing hearing for a first-degree murder conviction he received as a juvenile in 1997 in which he was sentenced to life in prison.
On Thursday, Avalos appeared before Circuit Court Judge Deno Economou for a case management hearing during which attorneys for both sides agreed to setting his newest case to go to trial after his pending murder trial. Attorneys agreed to tentatively set the case for October.
Avalos, head freshly shaved bald and goatee grown long, stood silently as his cases were discussed in his presence.
On Dec. 4, 2014, detectives say Avalos hanged his wife from a cord in the laundry room of their Northwest Bradenton home, beat her and then shot her. Potter, who had been visiting their home, was also reportedly shot dead.
After the women were slain, Avalos reportedly dropped his then 4-year-old son off at day care, drove to the Walmart Supercenter on State Road 64 where he left his vehicle, then took a taxi to Bayshore Baptist Church, 6502 14th St. W., where investigators and witnesses said he shot and killed Battle.
After a 51-hour manhunt led by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and a public plea from his father to turn himself in for the sake of his six children, Avalos was arrested on Dec. 6, 2014.
Avalos admitted to all three slayings during an interview after his arrest, the prosecutor in the case has said. The State Attorney's Office has indicated that it will be seeking the death penalty.
Avalos is next scheduled to be in court on March 22 as his defense will argue that the court should strike the state's intent to seek the death penalty after the January Supreme Court ruling in Hurst vs. Florida found the fact that Florida judges, not juries, have the ultimate say in the death penalty is unconstitutional.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.