See the update on Jorge Santiago Avalos' conviction.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 10, 10 A.M.: Trial is scheduled to begin this morning for Jorge Santiago Avalos, who is accused of murdering another man by hitting him in the head and face with the handle of an axe before fleeing in the dead guy's car.
This is actually the second trial for the 27-year-old, as a jury in April 2012 failed to reach a verdict. After two days of deliberations, jurors in Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey's courtroom were deadlocked 8-4 in favor of guilty of first-degree murder and 10-2 in favor of second-degree murder.
Avalos went to get his drink on at the Santa Ana home of Hilario Urquiza on the afternoon of Sept. 12, 2008, according to prosecutors, who accuse the visitor of going on to hit his host 15 times in the head and face with the handle of an axe.
With Urquiza face-down in a pool of blood, Avalos drove off in the dead man's Jeep, reads an Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) statement. Then, around 6 p.m. that same evening, witnesses called 9-1-1 to report a possible drunken driver behind the wheel of the Jeep.
At the intersection of Jackson Street and Camille Street in Santa Ana, the Jeep ran out of gas. Police officers responding to a possible DUI suspect arrived to find Avalos near the vehicle, according to the OCDA.
He showed signs of being intoxicated, and it was later determined he had a blood alcohol level of .16 percent. Avalos was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Cops searched the Jeep and discovered it was registered to Urquiza. Then, around 9 that night, Urquiza's son called to report that he had returned home to find his dead father. Santa Ana investigators linked Avalos to the suspected murder.
He now faces one felony count of murder and up to 15 years to life in state prison with a conviction.
UPDATE, OCT. 18, 1:12 P.M.: A Santa Ana jury today found Jorge Santiago Avalos guilty of felony murder, setting him up for a sentence of up to 15 years to life in state prison at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 20.