MANATEE -- A grand jury Tuesday has indicted Andres Avalos Jr. on three counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of his wife and two other people on Dec. 4, according to the State Attorney's Office.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Avalos, 33, could face the death penalty.
Prosecutors will have 45 days after his arraignment hearing to determine whether they will pursue the death penalty, according to Assistant State Attorney Art Brown.
The grand jury met for two and half hours before handing up the indictments Tuesday morning, Brown said.
Avalos, 33, was initially charged with three counts of second-degree murder.
Investigators say Avalos hanged his wife from a cord Dec. 4 in the laundry room of their northwest Bradenton home, then beat and shot her. He also gunned down his neighbor, Denise Potter, 46, who apparently was visiting at his home, investigators said.
After the attacks, investigators say he dropped his 4-year-old son off at daycare and went to the Walmart on State Road 64 where he left his vehicle. Avalos then took a taxi to Bayshore Baptist Church, 6502 14th St. W., where investigators and witnesses say he shot and killed the Rev. James "Tripp" Battle, 31.
Avalos was arrested Dec. 6 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, who were being held in a safe house until his capture. He was arrested in a mobile home park less than two blocks from Bayshore Baptist Church.
After his arrest, Avalos admitted to the slayings, Brown said at Avalos' first court hearing on Dec. 6.
Avalos is being held without bond at the Manatee County jail.