Accused triple-murder Andres "Andy" Avalos will rely on an insanity defense, his attorneys have notified the court, because a PET scan revealed he has a severely abnormal brain.
Avalos is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 4, 2014, slayings of his wife Amber Avalos, 33, neighbor Denise Potter and the Rev. Jason "Tripp" Battle.
If convicted, Avalos would be sentenced to death or to life in prison without parole.
Avalos’s defense filed notice with the court last week that he intended to rely on an insanity defense. On Tuesday, they filed a motion requesting the trial, not set for Oct. 17, be delayed because of the unavailability of the neuroradiologist being used by the defense
“Dr. Mark Herbst ... reviewed defendant’s PET scan and determined the defendant’s brain is severally abnormal,” defense attorney Andrew Crawford stated in the court document. “Dr. Herbst’s testimony is essential to the guilt phase and the penalty phase of defendant’s trial.”
During a hearing in April, Crawford had indicated they would not be using an insanity defense.
The defense has also requested a change of venue for the trial, but Circuit Judge Diana Moreland, presiding over the case, has reserved her ruling.
On Dec. 4, 2014, detectives sayAvalos hung his wife from a cord in the laundry room of their Northwest Bradenton home, beat her and then shot her dead. He then shot and killed Potter who had been visiting their home at the time, they say.
Afterward, investigators say Avalos dropped off his then-4-year-old son off at day care, drove to the Walmart Supercenter on State Road 64 East, left his vehicle and took a taxi to Bayshore Baptist Church, 6502 14th St. W., where he shot and killed Battle, according to investigators and witnesses.
Avalos was arrested Dec. 6, 2014, after a 51-hour manhunt led by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, and a public plea from his father begging him to turn himself in for the sake of his six children.
A prosecutor has previously said in open court Avalos provided detectives a confession to all three slayings after his arrest.