A man accused of killing the mother of his two children on the day she was about to deliver divorce papers to him learned of his fate in court on Monday.
Julia Maria Serrano Avila, 29, was murdered in a shooting in December 2019. Her husband, 28-year-old Fernando Avila, was arrested as the sole suspect.
Avila later pleaded guilty to first degree murder charges and firearm charges on the case.
On Monday, Avila was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a district judge in San Diego.
During the verdict on Monday, Avila apologized to Julia’s family “for having suffered so much pain” and her children “for taking their mother away from them.”
Julia Avila was shot dead on the street outside a pawn shop in City Heights, the prosecutor said, just blocks from the house where she lived with the couple’s two children.
The victim’s father described her alleged killer as lazy and not good. NBC 7’s Jackie Crea has the story.
San Diego police said at least three people watched the shooting. Violeta Marquez, who lives next to the family, told NBC 7 the first time she heard screams and called 911. Then she saw Avila fire two shots at his wife
“She was sitting on the sidewalk and I don’t know what he told her,” said Marquez. “And just like seconds he shot her again.”
Avila stayed and held her before running away on foot, Marquez said.
Witnesses said the couple quarreled prior to the shooting, which took place just blocks from Rosa Parks Elementary School and the neighborhood’s city center.
Sgt. Michelle Velovich said the argument started at her home and spread to the street and eventually outside the pawn shop, which is unrelated to the suspect or the victim.
The national domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-7233. NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia sits down with District Attorney Summer Stephan to discuss domestic violence resources available to victims.
It was not clear how many, if any, of the shots the children witnessed, but they were in the house at the time. The children, identified by neighbors as between 8 and 12 years old, were brought to live with family members, SDPD said.
NBC 7 learned that Julia filed for divorce in November 2019. She intended to serve Avila with these papers, her father Pablo Serrano told NBC 7.