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2 arrested in connection to 2 Hillsborough homicides

Fatima Garcia Avila and Daniel Negrete killed Erica Negrete, then conspired to kill Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez and blame the woman’s death on him, records show.
Daniel Negrete, 27, left, and Fatima Garcia Avila, 20, have been arrested in connection to two recent Hillsborough homicides. Deputies say the two were involved in the killings of Erica Negrete Aviles and Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez.
Daniel Negrete, 27, left, and Fatima Garcia Avila, 20, have been arrested in connection to two recent Hillsborough homicides. Deputies say the two were involved in the killings of Erica Negrete Aviles and Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez. [ Photos provided / Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Aug. 2|Updated Aug. 2

DOVER — Hillsborough deputies have arrested a man and a woman who they say were involved in the fatal shooting of a young Dover mother last month and then conspired to kill the woman’s own ex-boyfriend and pin the young mom’s death on him.

Daniel Negrete, 27, of Plant City, was arrested Monday and faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection to the deaths of Erica Negrete Aviles and Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez, records show. Fatima Lizeth Garcia Avila, 20, of Lakeland, was arrested Saturday and faces multiple charges, including principal to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Court documents say Garcia helped Negrete, her current boyfriend, kill Erica Negrete, 22, and then conspired to kill Cuellar-Enriquez, 25, and make it look like he killed Erica Negrete, according to two arrest affidavits.

A witness told investigators that Garcia said she “had to use somebody to take the fall” in Erica Negrete’s death, “so who else better than my ex?”

Deputies say Erica Negrete Aviles, pictured here in a post on the Haught Funeral Home Facebook page, was fatally shot outside her Dover home on July 18.
Deputies say Erica Negrete Aviles, pictured here in a post on the Haught Funeral Home Facebook page, was fatally shot outside her Dover home on July 18. [ Facebook ]

The affidavits lay out how the investigation unfolded after Negrete was shot dead in front of her home on July 18.

About 11 p.m. that night, Erica’s husband, Cornelio Negrete Jr., called 911 and said he and his wife had been shot outside their home on the 3000 block of Al Simmons Road, and after the shooting, someone stole their pickup truck.

Cornelio Negrete, who was later treated at Tampa General Hospital for a graze gunshot wound to his side, told investigators he was in the house with the couple’s two children when he heard gunshots and what sounded like his wife scream. He opened a side door to the home and saw his wife on the ground. He said she told him, “C.J., go get your gun.”

Cornelio Negrete said he went back into the house, retrieved a firearm and came back outside. He said he felt something hit his head, then blacked out and woke up in time to hear his truck, a Chevrolet Avalanche, being driven away. Erica Negrete died at the scene.

About a half-hour after the shooting, deputies received a call about a burning vehicle on the 2200 block of Fairfield Avenue in Brandon and found Cornelio Negretes’ Avalanche engulfed in flames. The truck was found about 8 miles from the shooting scene.

On July 26, Erica Negrete’s father contacted law enforcement after he received a text message in Spanish at about 12:07 that morning from an “Antonio,” who apologized for what “they did,” an affidavit states. The sender asked for forgiveness and said his conscience was killing him. The message stated, “This was not the plan,” and the sender purporting to be Antonio said that two men were threatening him and making him afraid.

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The father told investigators he didn’t know what the message meant. Detectives determined “Antonio” was Cuellar-Enriquez and learned that he’d been close to the Aviles family and had worked for the family’s tire shop.

As detectives worked that case, the Sheriff’s Office received a call about 7:45 a.m. on the morning of July 26 about a man lying on the ground on the 12000 block of Thonotosassa Road, near the Baker Creek Boat Ramp. Deputies arrived to find Cuellar-Enriquez dead from apparent gunshot wounds. Shell casings littered the ground near him.

Hillsborough deputies work at the scene near the Baker Creek Boat Ramp in Thonotosassa where Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez was found fatally shot on July 26.
Hillsborough deputies work at the scene near the Baker Creek Boat Ramp in Thonotosassa where Antonio Benito Cuellar-Enriquez was found fatally shot on July 26. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

Investigators determined Cuellar-Enriquez had been shot about 11:40 p.m. on the night of July 25. That was about 27 minutes before Erica Negrete’s father received the text message from Cuellar-Enriquez’s phone, so detectives concluded that a suspect or suspects likely had his phone at the time the message was sent.

Detectives received information about another possible suspect, Daniel Negrete, who, in addition to being Fatima Garcia’s boyfriend also is Cornelio Negrete’s cousin.

A witness said Garcia told the witness that if police asked about Cuellar-Enriquez’s murder, to say that Garcia was with the witness that night.

Another witness said Garcia provided an account of what happened that night that included details “unique to the investigation” that had not been publicized. Garcia said she drove Daniel Negrete to an area near Cornelio and Erica Negrete’s home and dropped him off. According to the witness, “Fatima Garcia went to the area knowing the plan was to murder Erica Aviles because she was ‘a bad mother,’” an affidavit states.

Daniel Negrete hid in the back of the Avalanche and then shot Erica Negrete, according to the affidavits. Fatima Garcia and Daniel Negrete then drove separately to the area where the Avalanche was found burned.

Fatima Garcia then took part in a plan for her ex, Cuellar-Enriquez, to “take the fall” for the shooting, an affidavit states. She contacted him and told them they should spend the night together, then gave him pills for a headache in an attempt to cause an overdose. When that didn’t work, she called Daniel Negrete, who arrived and confronted Cuellar-Enriquez about being with Garcia.

During a struggle, Negrete shot Cuellar-Enriquez, affidavits state. Garcia then used Cuellar-Enriquez’s phone to send a text message to Erica Negrete’s father to make it look like Cuellar-Enriquez killed her or knew who did, according to the affidavits.

Garcia told the witness the plan had been to kill Cuellar-Enriquez and make it look like a suicide, and she told the witness not to tell anyone about what they discussed or “we will have to kill you,” an affidavit states.

As of Tuesday, Daniel Negrete faced two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, two counts of felon in possession of a firearm and one count of arson, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Garcia faced two counts of principal to first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and one count each of witness tampering and witness tampering during first-degree murder. Both Daniel Negrete and Garcia are being held without bail Monday in the Hillsborough County jail system.

Erica Negrete, a mother of two, graduated from Strawberry Crest High in 2018, loved to travel and was working as a supervisor for Home Depot in Valrico, according to her obituary. She was a member of St. Clement Catholic Church in Plant City, where her family and friends gathered for her funeral mass last week.

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