Shooter’s appeal rejected in Columbus murder-for-hire


An undocumented immigrant who was sentenced to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to committing murder for hire in Columbus will remain in prison after a unanimous three-judge panel rejected his appeal.

Eliel Avelar, 35, was sentenced in October after pleading guilty to the murder of Leobardo Rodriguez Flores in February 2020. Avelar, a Mexican citizen who lived in Chicago, fatally shot Flores in the parking lot of his employer, Tool Dynamics, as Flores arrived at work.

According to court records, Avelar traveled to Columbus after learning that Abraham Cesareo was offering to pay someone to harm Flores, who Cesareo said was involved with his ex-girlfriend.

Cesareo was also sentenced to 28 years in prison for robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 2 felony, and 12 years for aiding, instigating or instigating a kidnapping during the hijacking of a vehicle, a felony. level 3.

Additionally, a woman who linked Cesareo to Avelar for the Flores attack also pleaded guilty for her role in the case. Eladia Jacabo Ortiz of Columbus was sentenced to nine years in prison in December after pleading guilty to aiding, inciting or causing aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony.

Avelar challenged his sentence handed down by Bartholomew 1 Superior Court Judge James Worton, calling it inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character. A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected Avelar’s arguments and upheld his sentence in a six-page memorandum opinion released May 28.

“… Avelar contends that this conduct does not materially exceed the elements of murder. We disagree,” Justice Leanna Weissmann wrote for the panel that also included Justices Paul Mathias and Elizabeth Tavitas. “Avelar agreed to kill Flores – someone he had never met – for $2,000. Although he had two weeks to back out of the deal, Avelar eventually borrowed a handgun, traveled from Chicago to Columbus, waited at Flores’ workplace, and then murdered Flores upon his arrival at the work. After the murder, Avelar attempted to cover up the crime by driving Flores’ car to another location and abandoning it. Avelar also burned his getaway car and told his friend to report it stolen.

“On the question of character, Avelar claims he has a history of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and self-harm. But he doesn’t explain how these mental health issues make his sentence inappropriate. Avelar also notes his significant history of substance abuse, claiming – without explanation – that “this crime would not have happened if he had been sober and lucid.”

“…Additionally, Avelar emphasizes that he expressed remorse for the murder of Flores. However, in making these expressions, Avelar simultaneously blamed the crime on drugs and alcohol, and the trial court “did not believe that at all.”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita trumpeted the opinion upholding the trial court’s decision defended by Assistant Attorney General Nicole Wiggins.

“Our office works hard to protect Hoosiers and their loved ones from a wide range of criminals, from white-collar crimes to outright killers,” Rokita said in a news release.

“A big part of this work is keeping dangerous offenders off the streets through our criminal call processing. In this case, we are dealing with someone who broke our laws from the start by entering our country illegally. Then, as happens too often, this offender committed a violent crime.

According to Indiana Department of Corrections records, Avelar is serving his sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. The release date of his project is June 23, 2061.