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January 3, 2013

Man draws 24-year sentence in death of his girlfriend

A man who stabbed his girlfriend to death in a south Wichita Kmart parking lot was sentenced Thursday to more than 24 years in prison.

A man who stabbed his girlfriend to death in a south Wichita Kmart parking lot was sentenced Thursday to more than 24 years in prison.

“I’d just like to say I’m very remorseful,” Eric Avila said at his sentencing hearing. “If I could remember what happened that night, I would be even more remorseful.”

Avila, 40, pleaded no contest in November to second-degree murder and kidnapping in the killing of 35-year-old Alina Burkman. He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated vehicle burglary charge.

Defense lawyer Erica Lopez said the homicide involved two people who loved each other but were both addicted to drugs.

Wichita police said Avila stabbed Burkman to death on the night of March 8 in the parking lot of the Kmart at 4830 S. Broadway. When police arrived, Avila was suffering from stab wounds to the chest and abdomen, but police said those wounds were apparently self-inflicted. Police said a dispute between Avila and Burkman erupted after they had been evicted from a nearby hotel.

Avila was initially charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in a plea agreement with prosecutors. In following the plea agreement, District Judge Clark Owens sentenced Avila to 221 months for second-degree murder, 55 months for kidnapping and 13 months for burglary. Owens ordered Avila to serve the sentences consecutively, bringing his total term to 24 years and a month in prison.

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