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Man convicted of beating O.C. drinking buddy to death with ax handle

October 18, 2013|By Adolfo Flores
  • Jorge Santiago Avalos.
Jorge Santiago Avalos. (Orange County district…)

A man was convicted Friday of killing a Santa Ana drinking buddy by striking him in the head and face with an ax handle before drunkenly driving off in the victim’s car.

Jorge Santiago Avalos, 27, was found guilty  of one felony count of murder for the September 2008 slaying. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, said Orange County prosecutors.

The case marked the second time Avalos was tried in the slaying of his drinking companion, Hilario Urquiza. The first trial ended, in 2012, resulted in a hung jury.

Avalos was accused of going to Urquiza’s Santa Ana home and killing him by hitting him 12 times with an ax handle.

Investigators said Avalos left Urquiza face-down in a pool of blood and drove off in his victim's Jeep.

Police said they responded to a report of a drunk driver and saw Avalos attempt to abandon the car at Jackson and Camille streets after it ran out of gas.

He was arrested for driving under the influence, with a 0.16 percent blood-alcohol level. Santa Ana officers also discovered that the car was registered to Urquiza.

Hours later Urquiza’s son called police after finding his father’s body, and police connected Avalos to the slaying.

Avalos is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 20 at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

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adolfo.flores@latimes.com

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