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Metrolink victim families testify

July 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Metrolink victim family members testified during the penalty phase of the trial of Juan Alvarez. Alvarez was convicted of causing a deadly Metrolink crash three years ago and could face the death penalty.Twenty-nine-year-old Juan Manuel Alvarez was found guilty of 11 murders after he triggered that Metrolink crash. Tuesday, the victims' relatives were not allowed to tell the jury their opinions on whether Alvarez should get life in prison or the death penalty. Instead, they testified about loss.

"I wish him the most heinous death possible, just like he did to the rest of the victims. He affected not only our lives, but a lot of other people's lives. He destroyed their lives," said Henry Romero, a nephew of one of the crash victims.

"We live in Florida now. We couldn't afford to stay here in California. My brother ... he's struggling with school. My mother is struggling to keep them afloat," said Nicole Beniquez, a crash victim's daughter.

Many relatives told the jury they are depressed, broken, and some are on medication.

"Your body is just tired. This has been a very trying three-and-a-half years. And you just know these things," said Bobby Parent, brother of a crash victim.

"It actually makes you afraid to even go out in the world anymore because you're wondering, 'Who is the next person that's going to do some harm to you?'" said Elaine Siebert Parent, sister of a crash victim.

Jurors wept upon hearing the story of Elizabeth Hill. Hill made Saturday rounds at local McDonald's restaurants with her grandson Jake to buy breakfast for homeless people. The family told of how Hill and her grandson loved to ride the rails. They also told of how Jake threw away his toy trains when he learned how his grandmother was killed.

The District Attorney requested jurors visit the Glendale rail yard on Wednesday. The wreckage of the Metrolink crash has been preserved as evidence against Alvarez.

 

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