INDIANAPOLIS — Last week, 18 people were indicted on federal charges for drug trafficking and money laundering. Three of those people are still at large, including 31-year-old Edeer Avila. Ten years ago, he was arrested for murder but was able to get out of jail early.
In early November of 2011, court documents say Avila was found outside a home on South Pershing Avenue covered in blood. The body of Bessey Martinez-Flores was lying upstairs. Her eyes had been removed.
Bessey’s friend, Maria Ramos, told police that Avila had a psych evaluation performed at an area hospital two days prior.
During the trial, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter on the grounds of being mentally ill. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but did not serve the entire time.
Attorney John Tompkins, who was not on the case, says records show Avila was out in 2020.
“Prior to 2014, whatever sentence you received at the Department of Corrections, or jail, you would do one half of the time that was announced,” Tompkins explained.
Before 2014, inmates received a day off their sentence for every day that they had good behavior. In other words, his twenty years could really be ten. The statutes changed in 2014.
Avila was arrested in Martinez-Flores’s death in 2011, prior to the rule change. He sat in jail for three years accruing time served until his sentencing in 2015. As Marion County Superior Court Judge Amy Jones explains, Avila was able to be grandfathered into the old rules despite being sentenced after the rule change.
“The way the statute was written, it is based on the offense date,” said Judge Jones. “It worked in his benefit that he got the credit for the day-for-day.”
If Avila was arrested in 2011 and had his time behind bars cut to ten years for good behavior, his sentence would still go beyond his 2020 release. So how was he able to get off even earlier?
Tompkins says inmates can receive additional time off for completing certain programs or classes within the Department of Corrections.
“These are all programs that are shown to decrease the risk of repeat offending,” explained Tompkins. “Programs that are eligible for time cuts have to be approved by the Department of Corrections first. It could be trade school certifications, formal educations, an associates degree, or a bachelors degree.”
Judge Jones says court records show Avila did file motions to have his time reduced for classes he took prior to his sentencing. All of those motions were denied. In one of the denial notices, the courts indicated that any reductions would have to be awarded from the Department of Corrections.
We asked the Indiana Department of Corrections if Avila completed any classes or programs while in jail.
They say, “Information about classes taken by incarcerated individuals is private.” They are not able to release that information to us.