Crime - Sacto 911

Trial nears for man accused of slashing woman’s throat

Jury selection has begun in the Sacramento Superior Court trial of Juan Avalos, held on suspicion of murder in the April 2015 slashing death of a North Highlands woman along Watt Avenue.

Avalos was present in court Wednesday alongside his attorneys and prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hightower, but did not speak.

Avalos was 28 when authorities say he was walking along Watt Avenue late April 22, 2015, as 32-year-old Nichole Riolo drove south on Watt.

Nichole Riolo’s throat was slashed from behind. She made it to a nearby parking lot where she died.

It was unknown whether Riolo’s car struck Avalos on the roadway or whether Avalos threw something at Riolo’s car, but Riolo stopped her car and walked toward Avalos, Sacramento County sheriff’s officials said.

As Riolo walked back to her car, sheriff’s officials said Avalos attacked the woman from behind, slashing her throat. Riolo was able to reach a nearby parking lot where she died.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Avalos the following day, April 23, 2015.

Sheriff’s officials said Avalos appeared to be intoxicated or suffering from mental health issues when he was arrested.

Avalos remains held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail awaiting his trial before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith