Days before his second-degree murder trial was to begin, an alleged Sorrento gang member was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday in a plea deal in the 2012 shooting death of a DeLand man.
Mauricio Garcia-Avila, 20, was also given 10 years of probation for the murder of 22-year-old Robert Headdy by Circuit Judge Mark Nacke on Friday.
The shooting occurred Oct. 19, 2012, near Azalea Avenue in Sorrento.
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, witnesses said the victim and the suspect’s family had altercations in the month prior to the shooting and the victim allegedly threatened to shoot the suspect’s brother, Jose Flores-Avila.
Deputies were called to the scene after witnesses reported hearing three gunshots. They arrived to find Headdy shot in the head with a shotgun and two spent shotgun shells by his side.
Headdy died at the scene.
The brothers were allegedly trying to sell the shotgun.
Witnesses said they saw Jose Flores-Avila running from the scene and investigators found both brothers at an Orange Avenue home a few blocks away from the shooting.
A shotgun with similar shells was found by a fence behind the house, along with Maurico Garcia-Avila’s wallet, according to sheriff’s reports.
The trial had been scheduled to start Monday before the plea deal was made Friday. It is not clear what evidence the prosecution had planned to present. However, according to court records, the defense had motioned for the court to stop the prosecution from entering into evidence that Garcia-Avila is a gang member.
Assistant State Attorney Rich Buxman, who prosecuted the case, submitted a motion on June 2, asking the judge to keep witnesses from testifying that Headdy had been smoking marijuana prior to the altercation. While the motion acknowledges medical examiner’s testing revealed marijuana in Headdy’s system, Buxman argues the results do not show how much of the drug was present and added there’s no evidence the drug affected the victim’s actions during the altercation.
Buxman also motioned the court to prevent the defense from arguing during the trial that a witness who allegedly tied Garcia-Avila to the shooting should be charged with perjury after making inconsistent statements.
Buxman said during an interview Thursday he expected lawyers for Garcia-Avila to argue self-defense.
Garcia-Avila was given two years credit for time served.