Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Gunman’s appeal denied in Columbus murder-for-hire case

By meerna Jun12,2024


An undocumented immigrant who was sentenced to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to committing a murder-for-hire in Columbus will remain in prison after a unanimous three-judge panel rejected his appeal.

Eliel Avelar, 35, was sentenced in October after pleading guilty to the February 2020 murder of Leobardo Rodriguez Flores. Avelar, a Mexican national living in Chicago, fatally shot Flores in the parking lot of his employer, Tool Dynamics, as Flores arrived for work.

According to court records, Avelar traveled to Columbus after learning that Abraham Cesareo was offering to pay someone to hurt Flores, who Cesareo believed was involved with his ex-girlfriend.

Cesareo was also sentenced to 28 years in prison for robbery resulting in serious bodily injury as a Level 2 felony and 12 years for aiding, abetting or causing kidnapping during a vehicular hijacking as a Level 3 felony.

Additionally, the woman who linked Cesareo to Avelar in connection with the attack on Flores also admitted her role in the case. Eladia Jacabo Ortiz, of Columbus, was sentenced in December to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding, abetting or causing aggravated battery, a third-degree felony.

Avelar challenged the sentence handed down by Bartholomew No. 1 Superior Court Justice James Worton as inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and its nature. An Indiana Court of Appeals panel rejected Avelar’s arguments and upheld his conviction in a six-page memorandum issued May 28.

“… Avelar argues that this conduct did not materially exceed the elements of murder. We disagree,” Justice Leanna Weissmann wrote to the panel, which also included Justices Paul Mathias and Elizabeth Tavitas. “Avelar agreed to kill Flores – someone he had never even met – for $2,000. Despite having two weeks to back out of the deal, Avelar ultimately borrowed a gun, traveled from Chicago to Columbus, lurked at Flores’ workplace, and then murdered Flores when he arrived at work. After the murder, Avelar tried to cover up the crime by driving Flores’ car to another location and abandoning it. Avelar also burned his getaway car and told his friend to report it stolen.

“In terms of character, Avelar states that he has a history of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. However, he does not explain why these mental problems made his sentence inappropriate. Avelar also notes his extensive history of substance abuse, claiming – without explanation – that “this crime would not have occurred if he had been sober and sober.”

“…Additionally, Avelar emphasizes that he has expressed remorse for the murder of Flores. However, in making such statements, Avelar was simultaneously accusing drugs and alcohol of the crime, and the trial court “didn’t buy it at all.”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita released an opinion upholding the trial court’s decision, which was defended by Assistant Attorney General Nicole Wiggins.

“Our office works hard to protect Hoosiers and their loved ones from a wide range of criminals, from bureaucrats to common killers,” Rokita said in a news release.

“A big part of this job involves keeping dangerous criminals off the street by handling criminal appeals. In this case, we are dealing with a person who has broken our law from the very beginning by illegally entering our country. Then, as often happens, the perpetrator committed a brutal crime.”

According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, Avelar is serving his sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. The release date of his project is June 23, 2061.

By meerna

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