Stabbing suspect enters plea of guilty

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2006

By Joseph Marks, staff writer

Juan Aviles, who was the primary suspect in the stabbing of his wife Andrea Rivera last autumn, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree felony assault Thursday afternoon after a plea bargain was reached.

Following his plea, Aviles admitted openly in court that he had cut his wife, Andrea Rivera, with a knife during an argument Sept. 29 and said he was not acting in self-defense at the time. A charge of second-degree assault means the perpetrator used a weapon and caused substantial bodily harm, according to Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson.

The plea bargain was reached between Aviles’ public defender Kevin Riha and County Attorney Craig Nelson.

Aviles will serve no more than 33 months, with a minimum of one year in jail including the approximately six months he has already served, Nelson said.

Aviles, who was referred to by police and court officials as Juan Rivera during his first court appearances, is the primary suspect in the Sept. 29 stabbing of his wife in their Edgewood home. He was arrested Sept. 30 near the Mason City airport following a 16-hour search by police officers and sheriff’s deputies during which canine units and a state patrol helicopter from St. Paul were deployed.

Nelson said he would not have been able to successfully prosecute Aviles for the initial charge of attempted murder because hospital documents revealed the stabbing victim did not have life threatening injuries after the assault. Nelson said the victim’s wounds were almost healed now.

Aviles agreed to waive his right to receive a judicial decision on questions brought up by Riha, including the validity of an alleged confession, as part of his plea bargain.

Andrea Rivera, who said in an Oct. 4 interview with the Tribune that Aviles had attacked her, was airlifted to St. Marys hospital in Rochester the night of the assault where she was treated for multiple stab wounds to the face and a broken nose and cheekbone.

Nelson said he spoke with Rivera Thursday and she was aware of the plea bargain.

Aviles has a previous arrest record, according to Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels, but police have not released details of the arrests.

(Contact Joseph Marks at or at 379-3435.)