Albuquerque man accused of multiple homicides pleads guilty

Albuquerque man accused of multiple homicides pleads guilty

20-year-old Adrian Avila sat in court Tuesday, pleading guilty to crimes he committed when he was 16.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 20-year-old Adrian Avila sat in court Tuesday, pleading guilty to crimes he committed when he was 16. 

Avila killed one young man during a robbery in 2020, and another less than a year later in another attempted robbery. 

The family of one of Avila’s victims told KOB 4 they begged for this to go to trial, for the chance for more prison time. A judge accepted that 29 year plea Tuesday.

The first murder happened in August 2020. He and three co-defendants shot and killed Donnie Brandon during a robbery at an Albuquerque park. 

“What’s so concerning about Adrian is not just that he’s willing to make these rash decisions, but that he’s demonstrated that he really has very little appreciation for human life.”

Donnie’s pregnant girlfriend witnessed the crime. Her dad spoke in court Tuesday:

“After the birth of their baby girl, she had a psychological breakdown, and we lost my daughter to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, which ultimately lead her to living on the streets.”

He credited Avila with creating an orphan. 

“Because of the senseless and cowardly acts by these individuals, that beautiful little girl lost her daddy and mommy.”

Avila committed the two other crimes in February 2021. He worked with a girl to kidnap Nicholas Otero and try to rob him. They drove Nicholas at gunpoint to his brother’s house for money and a gun, where Avila shot and killed Elias Otero. 

“I will never understand how anyone could be so cold to rob people for material things and their dignity, making a choice to take someone’s life is unexcusable,” said Alicia Otero, Elias’ mother.

Elias’s parents spoke in court along with cousins, family, friends, and other members of the New Mexico Crusaders for Justice.

“In this situation your Honor there are no winners. But the family of Elias Otero has suffered the greatest loss.”

Alicia Otero co-founded the crusaders group shortly after her son’s murder, dedicating her time to changing laws, and helping other families through heartbreak.

“I have prayed for my pain to go away, but I don’t believe that’s ever gonna happen,” said Alicia. “I lost Elias, and now I feel like I’m losing my son Nicholas. It’s not fair.”

The defense pointed out Avila won’t be out of jail until well into his 40s, saying this is a sign he’s taking responsibility. 

“It is inaccurate to say that this plea agreement reflects Mr. Avila not taking accountability or facing consequences. I’d suggest it is the opposite.”

Avila spoke briefly on his own behalf. 

“I know I hurt a lot of people, the families, my family, and I’m sorry for that. I take full responsibility and ask forgiveness from all of y’all,” said Avila.

Forgiveness we don’t know if these families will ever grant. 

“How is this justice on a plea deal? I just don’t understand it. You take a life, you deserve life.”

Judge David Murphy ended Tuesday’s hearing by saying both victims did not need to die, and Avila is directly responsible for their deaths. 

Prosecutors also said Avila is still to this day a potential suspect in other homicides.