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Defense witness says 'delusional disorder' drove Avalos to kill 3 people

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MANATEE Co., FL (WWSB) - A radiologist, a psychologist and a neurologist each took the stand on Thursday in the trial of Andres Avalos.

Andres Avalos Jr is charged with first-degree murder for the slaying of three people in Bradenton: his wife, Amber Avalos, neighbor Denise Potter and a local pastor, Rev. James Battle III. If convicted, Avalos could be sentenced to the death penalty.

His attorney's, using expert testimony and the results of a PET scan, was attempting to illustrate Avalos has what doctors called an "abnormal brain."

"I would not be comfortable saying what the clinical result would be, other than not good," said Dr. Steven Cohen, a neurologist.

State attorneys questioned whether the pictures could be used to diagnose a mental disorder like the one argued by the defense attorney.

"You would never make a diagnosis of a specific condition based solely on pet scan?" asked Assistant State Attorney Art Brown. 

"Oh, no, never," said Dr. Cohen.

Avalos' uncle, Lt. Joel Perez, who is with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, was called to the stand again to describe his nephew's  paranoia about his wife Amber's infidelities. "He mentioned Amber. He said. 'You guys think she's some angel, but she's not."

Psychologist Valerie McClain, who met with Avalos and reviewed his medical history, says he suffers from delusional disorder, which drove him to believe his paranoia as reality and murder three people.

"He maintained that was the case, this belief, that here is his enemy, she's not respecting him," said McClain. "He's feeling like she's not afraid of him, he's not being taken seriously, and basically I think he snapped and lost it."

Avalos told Judge Diana Moreland he was waiving his right to testify, "Out of respect for the families involved."