Keosouphanh pleads to North Providence shooting that killed Avila

Keosouphanh pleads to North Providence shooting that killed Avila

Ernest Keosouphanh, age 19, of Providence, pleaded guilty Friday before Superior Court Justice Robert 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. He is not eligible for parole.

Keosouphanh had been charged with murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, discharge of a gun during the commission of a crime resulting in serious injury, and possession of a gun without a license.

Had the case proceeded to trial, prosecutors say they were prepared to prove that on May 15, 2016, Brandon Pavao, age 24, and Davon Silva, 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 and the fight 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 a car owned by Neves. At around the same time, Hernan Avila Jr. arrived at the store to protect his son.

Armed with a Keltec .9mm, Keosouphanh quickly exited the 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 doing so, Keosouphanh shot Avila in the stomach, causing his death.

The three men fled the scene. Police recovered the gun 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 person, Nick Perez, 25, of Providence, pleaded guilty to selling a gun to a minor and is also waiting 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," said Attorney Gen. Peter Kilmartin, who announced the plea. "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."

North Providence Police Det. Chris Cote and Capt. 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.