Court Finds Mexican Priest Guilty Of Killing a Church Deacon
A Mexican Catholic priest was found guilty of murdering a 29-year-old deacon in 2019. A Mexican court determined that Fr. Francisco Javier Bautista Ávalos was responsible for the death of Hugo Leonardo Avendaño Chavez, a deacon at Cristo Salvador Catholic Church in Tlalpan, Mexico City, Mexico News Daily reported.
Ávalos was arrested a week after he celebrated a funeral mass for the victim in June 2019, The Catholic Register reported.
Ávalos is set to be sentenced on Thursday, and the victim's family is seeking the maximum penalty of imprisonment of 50 years.
The Mexican Priest
Josué Avendaño, Leonardo's brother, said the Mexican priest was accused of "murder, treason, premeditation, and torture."
Josué noted that about 54 pieces of evidence were presented during the April 6 hearing, Milenio reported.
"He (Ávalos) was responsible for the murder and it was also presented that there were a betrayal and premeditation on his part," Josué said in the report. He added that he felt "great peace" when he heard that the court ruled that Ávalos was guilty.
Leonardo disappeared on June 11, 2019 and he was found dead in his truck on June 13 with signs of torture and strangulation.
Security camera footage and mobile phone showed the Mexican priest's connection on the day the deacon was killed. Hours before the murder of Leonardo, Ávalos was captured by the video surveillance cameras with the victim.
It was established that Leonardo was in the church, and Ávalos' mobile phone also gave the same location. It was also learned that the Mexican priest also went towards the area where the victim's truck was found.
On June 18, 2019, Ávalos was arrested and was eventually put in the Oriente prison. Josué acknowledged that he was very disappointed because the Mexican priest was very close to their family. He further noted that his brother admired Ávalos a lot.
"I wouldn't have been happy if there was an injustice and they released someone who deprived someone's life," said Josué.
Ávalos is known to be the parish priest of the Cristo Salvador Church when the tragic incident happened. During a funeral service of the killed deacon, Ávalos, who officiated it, even expressed his hopes to catch the murderer.
But the police noted that there were discrepancies in the Mexican priest's testimony during his interview with the authorities.
Hugo Leonardo Avendaño Chavez has a master's degree from a Catholic University. The victim worked with the Mexican priest in the church while having ambitions of entering the priesthood.
Josué noted that his brother died due to asphyxiation. He also said that his brother's body is badly bruised, and his nose was broken. Moreover, some of the victim's teeth were also missing.
Josué noted that the Mexican priest had no reaction when he was charged guilty by the court.
The Archdiocese of Mexico earlier expressed its hopes that the authorities holding the case will conduct a "rigorous and efficient" investigation that will conform to the law.
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