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Jan. 11 murder: revenge for robbery?
County prosecutors offered more details in a Modesto courtroom Monday as to why a 20-year-old man was shot to death on Jan. 11 as he drove his pickup in broad daylight down Whitmore Avenue in west Ceres.

Amadeo Avalos, 20, of Modesto, was fatally shot in late morning on Jan. 11 as he was at the intersection of Whitmore Avenue and Morgan Road. The shooter rolled up to the passenger side of Avalos' red Chevy pickup, fired multiple rounds at Avalos, and fled. The pickuo with a mortally wounded Avalos rolled forward and crashed into a chain-link fence at the southeast corner of Whitmore and Morgan. Avalos was dead when police arrived.

At a Stanislaus County Superior Court preliminary hearing, prosecutor Jared Carrillo said Avalos' murder was hatched by a family victimized in a home invasion robbery in South Modesto. The robbery, staged two days before the Ceres shooting, resulted in the loss of jewelry and other valuables totaling an estimated $250,000. A small child was home at the time. Patricia Avalos, sister of the homicide victim, was convicted in April of holding a gun on the Sanchez family during the Jan. 9 invasion and faces a possible 20-year prison sentence next month.

It's believed that Amadeo Avalos was not a participant in his sister's robbery but was targeted by a Sureño gang member as a way of exacting retribution for his sister being involved. Amadeo Avalos was described by police as a "hard working individual with no criminal background."

Six people are being prosecuted in the brazen murder, including accused gunman Primitivo Guizar, 18. He faces charges of first-degree murder with three gun enhancements and the special circumstance of lying in wait. Others charged are: Heliberto Sanchez Guizar, 27, as an accessory to murder; Luis Sanchez, 65, and Rosa Sanchez, 54, a Modesto couple also alleged accessories to murder; and Enrique Valadez, 20, a family friend who allegedly drove the shooter's vehicle. Valadez's charges are first-degree murder with a gun enhancement and the special circumstance of lying in wait.

On Friday Judge Scott Steffen will determine if the sixth suspect, Lucila Sanchez, 32, of Ceres, will be charged with participating in the ambush. She allegedly drove a vehicle behind Avalos' red pickup moments before the attack.

Luis and Rosa Sanchez are the parents of Lucila Sanchez, and Heliberto and Primitivo Guizar.

After the robbery, members of the victimized family gathered to formulate a plan to get back the stolen items from the perpetrators, said Carrillo. When the six were unsuccessful in retrieving the property, talk turned to murder, he said.

None of those named in the murder were present during the robbery. Carrillo said their involvement was a "family thing."

If all three suspects who were present at the killing are convicted, they could be issued life prison terms.