Opening statements started Monday in the Andres Avalos triple murder trial.

  • Testimony begins for suspect in 2014 Bradenton triple murder
  • Andres Avalos, 36, faces three counts of first-degree murder
  • Avalos accused of killing wife, neighbor and area church pastor
  • Previous stories on this case

A jury of 14 people, which was sworn in Friday evening, will hear testimony in a Bradenton courtroom starting today. The jury, which was culled from 155 people over the course of a week, features 10 women and four men. Two of the jurors are alternates.

Avalos, 36, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 4, 2014, deaths of his wife Amber Avalos, Denise Potter and the Rev. James "Tripp" Battle. 

According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Avalos fatally shot his wife, 33-year-old Amber, and their neighbor, Potter, 46, at the couple's home in Bradenton.  Avalos then allegedly went to Bayshore Baptist Church, where investigators said Avalos shot and killed Battle.

Avalos was arrested two days later at an area mobile home park. Prosecutors said Avalos confessed to investigators after he was arrested.

The prosecution has said it will seek the death penalty if Avalos is convicted. 

However, defense attorneys have already said they will rely on an insanity defense and Avalos has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which would take the death penalty off the table. 

According to the Bay News 9 partner newspaper the Bradenton Herald, the jury will hear from about 100 witnesses that the state has subpoenaed to testify. Jurors likely also will hear Avalos' recorded confession to detectives with the Manatee Homicide Unit. 

Another possible witness is Rev. Battle's wife, who told detectives she saw Avalos shoot and kill her husband just outside the church's office. 

Defense attorneys originally requested a change of venue for the trial because of all the publicity surrounding it, but a judge denied that request.