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Ernest Keosouphanh Pleads to North Providence Shooting that Killed Hernan Avila, Jr.

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced the Ernest Keosouphanh (age 19), of Providence, pleaded guilty today before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause to the May 15, 2016 shooting at Sam's Food Mart in North Providence that left Hernan Avila, Jr., dead and his son Hernan Avila, III, injured. Under the terms of the plea, Keosouphanh was sentenced to a life sentence plus 30 years, followed by 20 years suspended, non-parolable.

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that on May 15, 2016, Brandon Pavao (age 24) and Davon Silva (age 20), both of Providence, approached Hernan Avila, III, outside Sam's Food Mart on Humbert Street in North Providence to ask if he had any marijuana. After Avila told the two he did not have any marijuana, words were exchanged which quickly escalated into Pavao and Silva telling Avila they were going to call friends and "shoot up the place."

Frightened, Avila called his father, Hernan Avila, Jr., who agreed to come to his son's aid.

Pavao called Nicholas Armenti (age 19), Davante Neves (19), and Keosouphanh. The three drove to the store in Neves' car. At approximately the same time, Hernan Avila, Jr., arrived at the store to protect his son.

Armed with a Keltec .9mm, Keosouphanh quickly exited Neves' vehicle and opened fire on the younger Avila, with bullets striking him eight times. The elder Avila attempted to save his son and charged at Keosouphanh as he was getting back into the vehicle. As he was, Keosouphanh fired the gun again with a bullet striking Mr. Avila in the stomach, causing his death.

The three men fled the scene. Police recovered the firearm in the Woonasquatucket River, thrown there by the defendant.

Pavao, Neves, and Armenti have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit felony assault and awaiting to be sentenced. Silva's case is pending. A fifth individual, Nick Perez (age 25), of Providence, pleaded guilty to selling a gun to a minor and is also awaiting to be sentenced.

"This was a senseless act of violence by a group of young men who were out to prove how tough they were. The result was a family that will be forever devastated over the loss of their husband and father who came to the aid of his son," said Attorney General Kilmartin.

North Providence Police Detective Chris Cote and Captain Michael Paiva led the investigation. Special Assistant Attorneys General Tim Healy and David Bonzagni prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.

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