There was a surprising admission of guilt Monday as a double murder trail gets underway. The case involves a father who is accused of gunning down his daughter's gay lover as well as that woman's mother.
Nearly 70 potential jurors packed into the hallway outside of the 403rd district court. The selection process for the double murder trial against Jose Alfonso Aviles was something his attorney trying to avoid.
"Yeah he is extremely remorseful for what happened, in fact he was willing to plead guilty, not to Capitol but to lesser charge of murder," said defense attorney Bradley Urrutia.
Aviles, according to Urrutia, tried to commit suicide after being arrested for the April 19 double murder at this southeast Austin home. Police say he shot and killed 24-year-old Norma Hurtado and her mother 45 year old Maria.
"He went over there and he had an argument with the younger woman who was seeing his daughter and they argued and he intended to killer her," said Urrutia.
However, Urrutia claims that killing her mother was an accident.
"And I'm telling you he didn't intend to kill them both he only intended to kill one and therefore it's not capital murder it's just murder, that's what's our strategy is and why we are willing to plea to guilty all along," Urrutia said.
With that kind of deal Aviles would be eligible for parole in 30 years. He would be pushing about 80.
Instead prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty. By trying this case as a capital murder, a guilty verdict could bring a sentence of life without parole, which may have factored into the decision to not also try this case as a hate crime.
Protest marches were held, and at the funerals as well as at community meetings there were calls for action. Much of the reaction was triggered by reports that Aviles killed Norma Hurtado only because of her relationship with his 17-year-old daughter.
"That's what's been reported, but that's not true at all," said Urrutia.
The fatal confrontation at the Hurtado home April 19th, according to Urrutia, was the result of a long running battle between both families.
"It was more of a struggle to get Norma to leave their child alone so she could live up to her responsibility she had in regards to school and her young daughter than it was about her being gay," Urrutia said. "I'd say that played a minor role."
A jury, once one is selected, will be given an opportunity to accept that argument and possibly even consider the lesser charge prosecutors turned down.