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Man gets eight years in homeless stabbings

FORT WORTH -- A 42-year-old man who stabbed two homeless men, one fatally, during a fight last year has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Alberto Garcia Avendano pleaded guilty to murder Monday in the death of Alvaro Padilla, 38. As part of a deal with prosecutors, a second charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, for stabbing the other man, was dismissed.

Prosecutor Ashley Johnson said the case was fraught with potential self-defense issues.

"My plea bargain reflected those concerns and was what I thought was in the best interest of the victim, Alvaro Padilla, and his family, considering the evidence that we would have been able to present to the jury at trial," Johnson said.

Steven Bush, Avendano's attorney said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"I think it was fair to both sides," Bush said.

Officials have said that two homeless people woke up about 6 a.m. May 13 and found Padilla lying facedown in the dirt in a vacant lot near Hemphill Street and Malta Avenue. He had been fatally stabbed. While investigating the homicide, police learned that another man had been stabbed earlier that morning and taken to a hospital.

Police said the stabbings apparently stemmed from an altercation at a carwash that involved the victims and a friend of Avendano. Later that day, police have said, Avendano went with his friend, who returned to the carwash to continue the argument, but the victims left to avoid a fight and returned to their campsite.

Police have said that Avendano showed up there a short time later. A fight ensued and both victims were stabbed, officials said.

Bush said that his client said he stabbed the victims in self-defense and that, if the case had gone to trial, he planned to argue that to the jury. He also said some of the witnesses had credibility problems.

"The problem was to try and resolve whether [Avendano] acted in self-defense or whether that didn't happen and it was murder, pure and simple," Bush said. "It was difficult to predict whether the jury would find self-defense or not. The decision was to compromise on that difficult question. He agreed to plead guilty to the crime and get a more lenient sentence than a person who committed murder might normally get."