PLEASANTON -- A Livermore couple charged in the death of their partner, who police say died when their drug lab exploded, could avoid murder charges if a judge accepts their plea deals, attorneys said.
Evan Avilés and Lexie Hutson were scheduled Tuesday to change their not guilty pleas on second degree murder charges and to plead guilty, respectively, to involuntary manslaughter and accessory after the fact charges.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Christine Moruza, however, declined to accept the deal without prior approval of Judge Stuart Hing, who will sentence the pair, said Avilés' attorney Mario Andrews.
"This deal does not include murder," said Andrews. "Avilés would plead to involuntary manslaughter and Ms. (Hutson) would plead to an accessory, but we have to get the judge to approve it."
Avilés, 22, and Hutson, 23, were arrested June 14, more than a year after the May 21, 2011 explosion and fire at their Silver Oaks Way apartment that killed their partner, Paul Lom, 35. The couple was charged with murder and manufacturing a controlled substance, hashish oil.
Lom died after the explosion. Investigators say butane -- a flammable liquid used to make the drug -- spilled and pooled on the floor, causing the explosion that critically injured all three and resulted in Lom's death five days later.
According to court records, police searched the burned home and discovered a computer with searches
The trio also shared text messages regarding manufacturing hash oil, and fingerprints from the couple were found on equipment used to manufacture hash oil, according to court records.
"It's doubtful that Ms. Hutson was involved in the manufacturing," said her attorney, David Bryden. "Unfortunately I think the decedent had a more active role."
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Joseph Eichhorn declined to comment on the plea deal Tuesday. Family members for both Avilés and Hutson also declined comment.
Eichhorn, Andrews and Bryden are scheduled to meet with Hing on Sept. 11. If Hing approves the deal, Hutson and Avilés will appear back in Moruza's courtroom to change their not guilty pleas on Sept. 25.
Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.