The death penalty sought in the Cesareo case

The death penalty will be sought for a man from Columbus accused of instigating what has developed into a murder case.

Investigators say Abraham Jimenez Cesareo, 37, of 2207 Seventh St., hired a man from Chicago to come to Columbus and physically injure Leobardo Rodriguez Flores, 37. Cesareo hired Eliel Avelar because he was jealous that the victim was dating his ex-girlfriend, according to a probable cause affidavit.

On Monday morning, in Bartholomew 1 Superior Court, defense lawyer Joseph Lozano said his client was not prepared to agree to either of the two plea agreements he had received.

When Judge James Worton said the case would go to a jury trial on November 9, Bartholomew County District Attorney Bill Nash announced he would seek the death penalty against Cesareo.

Nash’s decision will have some impact on the upcoming trial, the judge said. For example, an accused must be represented by two lawyers when the death penalty is sought in Indiana. One of the lawyers must have experience in a capital punishment case.

Nash and Lozano were both called to the bench to speak privately with the judge. After the conference ended, Worton said he was not prepared to reject the original trial date at this time. However, the judge said he wanted to see all parties in his courtroom on November 1 at 11 a.m. to decide how to proceed.

Avelar pleaded guilty to intentional homicide in the death of Flores, who was shot and killed on February 26, 2020, in the parking lot of his employer, Tool Dynamics, located on South Marr Road.

Although he has agreed to a plea deal, Avelar will not be sentenced until he testifies in the cases of three defendants including Cesareo.

The plea agreement stipulates that Avelar would be sentenced to 17.5 years in prison if he testified sincerely against his three co-defendants: Cesareo, Eladia Jacobo Ortiz and Esam Mohammed Abujoudeh.

Abujoudeh, 24, of Oak Forest, Ill., Is charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice as a Level 6 felony. Ortiz, 35, is charged with aiding, instigating or caused murder. Both have plea change hearings scheduled for January and trial dates tentatively set for February.

If Avelar does not testify or perjures himself, the judge can reject the plea deal and order him to stand trial on the eight counts he has been charged with. If found guilty on all counts, he would likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

About Norman Griggs

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