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Couple Charged in Murder of 22-Year-Old Mother Allegedly Tried to Pin the Crime on Suspect’s Ex Before Killing Him Too

Daniel Negrete, 27, left, and Fatima Garcia Avila vis Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office copy

Daniel Negrete, 27, left, and Fatima Garcia Avila vis Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

A 27-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman allegedly killed a 22-year-old mother, attempted to frame another man for the murder, and then killed that man as well.

Daniel Negrete and his girlfriend, Fatima Garcia Avila, were both taken into custody and charged with a series of felonies in connection with the slayings of Erica Aviles and Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez, police say.

Negrete was taken into custody on Monday and charged with first-degree premeditated murder with a firearm, second-degree arson, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Garcia Avila was arrested on Saturday and charged with one count each of principal to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree premeditated murder, and tampering with a witness during first-degree murder.

According to a sworn probable cause affidavit, Garcia Avila allegedly helped Negrete to plan and murder Erica, who was his cousin’s wife, because she was “a bad mother.” The two then planned to pin the murder on Cuellar-Enriquez, who was Garcia Avila’s ex-boyfriend, killing him as well.

Approximately a week later, Garcia Avila allegedly told a friend everything that happened. That friend then contacted the police and relayed what Garcia Avila disclosed.

The witness told investigators that Negrete and Garcia Avila on the night of July 18, 2022 drove together to the home of Aviles located in the 3000 block of Al Simmons Road where Negrete shot her several times, killing her. Garcia Avila fled the scene in the original car driven to the home while Negrete stole a Chevy Avalanche truck which the couple later burned.

Knowing that Erica’s family was actively looking for information on her killer, Garcia Avila allegedly told the witness that she “had to use someone to take the fall…so who else better than my ex (Antonio Cuellar-Enriquez)?” She allegedly sent Cuellar-Enriquez a text message asking him to spend the night with her and he came to her home.

Initially, Garcia Avila attempted to kill her ex by giving him an excessive number of pain pills for a headache “in an attempt to cause him to die via an overdose.” When that didn’t work, she calleged Negrete, who came to the residence and confronted Cuellar-Enriquez.

“Daniel Negrete then struck Antonio Cuellar-Enriquez on the head with a firearm and then there was a brief struggle before Daniel Negrete shot Antonio Cuellar-Enriquez multiple times. Fatima Garcia yelled at Daniel Negrete not to shoot Antonio Cuellar-Enriquez just before the shots were fired,” the affidavit states. “After the shooting, Daniel Negrete and Fatima Garcia got into a brief physical altercation, during which Daniel Negrete threatened to shoot her. Fatima Garcia then grabbed the gun while it was in Daniel Negrete’s hand and made him raise it to her head, and she told him to just kill her but she did not believe he was ‘about that life.'”

After the shooting, Garcia Avila allegedly used Cuellar-Enriquez’s cell phone to send Erica’s father an apology to make it seem like “he (Antonio) killed the girl (Erica) or knew someone who killed the girl.” The message, which was in Spanish, sought forgiveness and said, “This was not the plan.” Cuellar-Enriquez had previously worked at a tire shop owned by Erica’s father and was close to the family.

The witness also said that Garcia Avila explained that they were supposed to make Cuellar-Enriquez’s death “look like a suicide or an overdose.” Garcia Avila allegedly told the witness that if she mentioned anything about the murders to anyone, “we will have to kill you.”

Garcia Avila and Negrete are both being held without bond and are scheduled to appear for pretrial detention hearings on August 10.

Read the court documents below:

[image via Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.