Murdered pastor's wife takes stand in Avalos trial

- The wife of Pastor James "Tripp" Battle gave emotional testimony during the third day of her husband's accused murderer's trial. 

Joy Battle was the last witness called by the prosecution before they rested.

Joy Battle and her husband, Pastor Tripp were first introduced to Andres "Andy" Avalos and his wife, Amber when they needed repairs done at their church. The couples hit it off, but it was a chance meeting that would begin a countdown to tragedy.

"After meeting them and getting to know her, we thought she'd be a good fit over in our children's department," Joy Battle said, referring to a job opportunity at the church for Amber.

Joy Battle told jurors, toward the end of summer 2014 her cell phone rang. On the other end was Andres Avalos.

"He was crying. He brought up to me that Tripp and Amber were having an affair," she said.

RELATED: Confession tape played for jurors in Avalos trial

Joy pushed the claims aside. She testified that she worked closely with both Tripp and Amber. She said she never saw anything unusual.

"I didn't have that same feeling. I told him I was sorry he was upset and I offered to pray with him over the phone," she said.

After praying they hung up. It was the last she heard of those concerns for months, until December 4 when Avalos showed up at the church.

"He seemed a little jittery, but other than that he was polite, but he was just going on about the affair," Battle said.

A call from her husband interrupted the conversation.

"He asked me if everything was okay. I remember saying I don't know. He said he would be there shortly," she said.

Their phone call ended with their last "I love yous."

A few minutes late,r Tripp pulled into the parking lot at Bayshore Baptist. Joy said Avalos walked outside to meet him and pulled a gun from his back.

"He shot him three times. He fell to the floor and he started crying out. He was down on the ground and he was crying out in pain," Joy testified. "I thought the best chance of him living was to call 911."

Joy said as she called 911, Avalos shot her husband once more and walked away. Battle died outside the church to which he devoted his life's work.

The state rested its case Wednesday afternoon. A forensic psychologist took the stand earlier in the day.
He testified that Avalos does not suffer from any mental illness. He said Avalos could decipher between right and wrong while he committed the murders. 

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Murdered pastor's wife takes stand in Avalos trial
  • State attorney aims to disarm abusers
  • Pinellas SO completes excessive force investigation
  • Missing Tampa girl located, unharmed
  • Two people die in wrong-way crash
  • Waste Management employees donate 107 bikes for kids in need
  • Vigil remembers Sandy Hook victims, 5 years later
  • Thief takes cell tower batteries, disrupts service
  • With election over, St. Pete mayor focuses on small business
  • Former TPD sergeant gets 3 years for fraud