For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING VICTIM BY HITTING HIM IN HEAD AND FACE WITH AXE HANDLE
*Defendant fled the scene in victim’s car and was later arrested for DUI
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for murdering a victim by hitting him in the head and face with the handle of an axe before fleeing the scene in the victim’s car. Jorge Santiago Avalos, 27, was found guilty by a jury Oct. 18, 2013, of one felony count of second degree murder. A previous jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in April 2012.
On the afternoon of Sept. 12, 2008, Avalos went to the Santa Ana home of Hilario Urquiza to drink with the victim. While in the home, Avalos murdered the victim by hitting him more than 12 times in the head and face with the handle of an axe. He then left the victim face-down in a pool of blood, stole the victim’s Jeep, and fled the scene.
Shortly after the murder, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Avalos drove with a .16 percent blood alcohol level in the victim’s stolen car. Witnesses called 911 to report a possible drunken driver. At the intersection of Jackson Street and Camille Street in Santa Ana, the Jeep ran out of gas and the defendant attempted to abandon the car and leave on foot.
The Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) responded to the scene and observed the defendant near the car. When contacted by police, the defendant displayed objective signs of intoxication and was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Officers found paperwork in a subsequent search of the Jeep showing that that car was registered to Urquiza.
At approximately 9:00 p.m., Urquiza’s son called SAPD to report that he had returned home to find his father had been murdered. SAPD investigated this case and linked Avalos to the crime.
At the sentencing today, the victim’s son gave an impact statement and told the court that he thinks about his father every day, and sees his dad every time he looks at his daughter.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.