Jose Alfonso Aviles, 45, is in custody and charged with the murder of 24-year-old Norma Hurtado and Hurtado’s 57-year-old mother, Maria. According to The Austin American-Statesman, the relationship between Aviles’ 18-year-old daughter and Norma was the source of a feud between the two families. The daughter only turned 18 years old last month.
Aviles arrived at the Hurtado’s home in Austin, Texas on Monday and shot both women while his daughter, not named by authorities, was at the residence. She found both victims after they had been shot and called 911.
The American-Statesman further reports, “The daughter told police that she and Norma Hurtado had been involved in a lesbian relationship, which her father did not approve of, and that there had been disturbances between Aviles and Norma Hurtado, according to an arrest affidavit.”
Friends of Norma Hurtado report seeing threatening text messages from Aviles, prior to Monday’s shooting.
Though there was a lot of animosity between both parties because of the lesbian relationship, the Travis County district attorney’s office has yet to classify this as a hate crime.
From the outside looking in, this seems to be a hate crime case. However, it may prove to be a little more complicated. In order to be charged as a hate crime, the perpetrator must target the victim based on a bias against a particular social group of which the victim is presumed to be a part.
In this case, it appears Aviles was motivated by the fact that his daughter was in a relationship with a woman. This could be a valid argument to charge this case as a hate crime.
However, the wild card that gives this case doubt lies in the ages of the two women in the lesbian relationship. Aviles’ daughter only turned 18 last month, which means she was in this relationship with a 24-year old-woman while still a minor. It’s possible to argue that if she had been in a relationship with a 24-year-old man, Aviles may have still disapproved.
Ultimately, we will never know whether he would have committed this heinous act if his daughter had been with an older male, but his anger over this particular relationship does seem to make his motive pretty clear.
Whether Aviles murdered the women based solely on his homophobic beliefs or if that was only the catalyst for disliking Norma Hurtado, the fact is, part of the reason he didn’t want his daughter to be with her had to do with his discomfort of having a gay daughter.
It doesn’t matter that only part of his motive had to do with sexuality, what matters is that it fueled his fire. If an argument about his daughter’s sexual orientation led to another argument with Hurtado’s family, and that led to another conflict that ultimately drove Aviles to murder, then yes, this was a hate crime.
Until we hold all parties accountable for their violence enacted through hatred, there is no end in sight.
Being vocal about his dislike of his daughter’s homosexual relationship to the point of threatening Norma Hurtado should be enough to make this a hate crime. If it is even part of the motive, then it should count.
What do you think? Should this be tried as a hate crime?
Photo from Chapendra via flickr