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A Florida couple is accused of gunning down a woman because they thought she was a “bad mother,” then trying to frame one of their exes for the slaying before killing him too.
Daniel Negrete, 27, and his girlfriend Fatima Garcia Avila, 20, face two counts of first-degree premeditated murder with a firearm and two counts conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after authorities linked them to the homicides of Erica Aviles and Antonio Cuellar-Enriquez, according to a statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said the pair had “familial ties” to both victims in the case.
"These senseless killings have forever changed at least two families," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "Ending someone's life cannot — and should not — be the answer to any situation.”
The violence began around 11:00 p.m. on July 18 when the 22-year-old Aviles was gunned down outside her Dover home.
Aviles was returning to her home after dropping her unnamed sister — who had been babysitting that night — off, according to court records obtained by Oxygen.com.
Aviles' husband, Cornelio Negrete Jr. — the cousin of suspect Daniel Negrete — told deputies that he had been inside the home with the couple’s children when he heard the gunshots go off and his wife scream.
He ran to the door and saw his wife laying on the ground around the side of the house. She told him to “go get your gun” but said that, when he returned with the firearm moments later, he felt himself get struck in the head and then lose consciousness.
He called 911 after he regained consciousness and first responders found Cornelio with a “grazing wound” to his left side from a gunshot, according to court documents. His wife was dead.
The couple's Chevrolet Avalanche was stolen from the property and found about eight miles away “fully engulfed in flames” a short time after the shooting.
Avila allegedly provided more details about the incident to a witness, who spoke to police after the second murder. She said the woman allegedly admitted that she and Negrete had targeted Aviles because they thought she was a “bad mother.”
According to the witness’ account, Avila said she dropped Negrete off at the murder scene and he hid in the back of the couple's Chevrolet Avalanche until Aviles returned, at which point he shot her “a couple of times.”
While Avila took off in the red Ford Edge she had driven to the home, Negrete allegedly stole and the torched the Chevrolet Avalanche.
In the days after the fatal shooting, the witness alleged that the couple knew Aviles' family “was still actively looking for information” and Avila said they knew they “had to use someone to take the fall…so who else better than than my ex?”
Her ex was Antonio Cuellar-Enriquez, 25: He had once worked at a tire shop in Hillsborough County owned by Erica Aviles’ family and was said to be close to them, making him a believable patsy.
Avila allegedly told the witness that she lured Cuellar-Enriquez to an area outside of Tampa by suggesting they “spend the night.” She initially tried to induce an overdose by giving him pills for a headache but, when that didn’t work, she allegedly called Negrete to the scene.
He allegedly confronted Cuellar-Enriquez for being with Avila before striking him on the head with a firearm. There was a brief struggle and Avila allegedly told the witness that screamed out to Negrete not to kill Cueller-Enriquez, before Negrete shot the man.
The couple “got into a brief physical altercation” after the shooting during which Avila allegedly told the witness that Negrete threatened to shoot her. She said that she grabbed the gun and made him raise it to her head and “told him to just kill her but she did not believe he was 'about that life,’” the arrest report states.
The couple eventually calmed down and, in an attempt to misdirect authorities, used Cuellar-Enrique’s phone to send a message to Aviles’ father at around 12:07 p.m., which said in Spanish that Cuellar-Enrique wanted to apologize for what “they did” and asked for forgiveness.
“This was not the plan,” the message said.
Local police found Cuellar-Enriquez’s body on the morning of July 26 near the Baker Creek Boat Ramp outside of Tampa, but it didn’t take authorities long to connect both crimes after discovering Maxx Tech 9 mm shelling casings at the scene.
Using surveillance footage recovered from down the road from the boat ramp, police determined that gunshots could be heard in the area approximately 27 minutes before the text message was sent to Aviles’ father from Cuellar-Enrique's phone.
While allegedly confessing to the witness, Avila said they had planned to kill Cuellar-Enriquez and “make it look like a suicide,” but then the plan had seemingly gone awry.
Avila is said to have warned the witness not to tell anyone or “we will have to kill you.”
In addition to the murder and conspiracy counts, Negrete is facing charges of arson and two counts of being felon in possession of a firearm, according to the sheriff’s office.
Avila is also facing charges of tampering with a witness and tampering with a witness during first-degree murder.
Both are being held without bail at the Hillsborough County jail, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Authorities said the investigation remains ongoing.
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