Illegal immigrant who committed murder for hire in Indiana to remain behind bars, thanks to Attorney General Todd Rokita’s appeals team


    An illegal immigrant who killed another man in Columbus, Indiana, in exchange for $3,200 must continue serving a 55-year sentence after Attorney General Todd Rokita’s legal team prevailed at the Indiana Court of Appeals.

    “Our office works hard to keep Hoosiers and their loved ones safe from a wide array of wrongdoers, ranging from white-collar crimes to outright killers,” Attorney General Rokita said. “A big part of that work includes keeping dangerous lawbreakers off the street through our handling of criminal appeals. In this case, we’re dealing with someone who broke our laws from the very start by entering our country illegally. Then, as happens far too often, this offender proceeded to commit a violent crime.”

    The killer, Eliel Avelar, appealed, asking the appellate court to review his sentence. He argued that his mental health issues called for a lower sentence. The appellate court did not find this persuasive.

    “[H]e does not explain how these mental health issues render his sentence inappropriate,” the Indiana Court of Appeals stated in its ruling

    The court also found that his immigration status did not reflect well on his character. “Moreover, Avelar ignores that he was in the United States illegally,” the court stated. The court cited past precedent affirming that a “defendant’s unlawful immigration status is a valid aggravating factor because it demonstrates a disregard for the law.”

    In 2020, Avelar agreed to accept $2,000 from another man who wanted someone to harm his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Two weeks after agreeing to physically harm the new boyfriend, Avelar went beyond the agreement and murdered Leobardo Flores, fatally shooting him.

    Avelar then demanded and received more money for the slaying — to the tune of another $1,200.

    Three others confessed to playing roles in the crime.

    The Court of Appeals decision is attached.