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Man gets 11 life terms for Metrolink crash

August 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man convicted of causing the deadly 2005 Metrolink crash in Glendale has been sentenced to 11 consecutive life prison terms.Superior Court Judge William Pounders called Juan Manuel Alvarez a remorseless killer and said if it were possible he would impose a sentence of "forever" on him. Alvarez will not be eligible for parole.

A jury recommended Alvarez get life in prison without the possibility of parole. They did have the option of recommending the death penalty. The judge said at the time that he would not contest the jury's recommendation and would abide by its decision.

Alvarez was found guilty of parking his car on the train tracks, resulting in a crash that left 11 people dead and 180 injured. He claimed he had parked his Jeep on the tracks in an attempt to commit suicide, but then had a change of heart and couldn't get his car off the tracks in time. He said he never meant to hurt anyone else.

The prosecution argued it was murder and the jury agreed. On June 26, jurors convicted Alvarez of 11 counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of arson, in connection with his actions on Jan. 26, 2005, which resulted in the deadliest crash Metrolink's history.

Jurors did not believe Alvarez was trying to take his own life, but they also did not believe that he had intended to derail three trains and decided he didn't deserve the death penalty.

Many relatives of the victims spoke through fears as they faced Alvarez in court Wednesday and unleashed their feelings.

"Mr. Alvarez would you please look at me," said one family member. "Because of the stupid thing that you did, you have brought so much sadness to a lot of people."

"I haven't found it in me yet to forgive you Mr. Alvarez," said Deanna Forbes, granddaughter of a Metrolink victim. "I resent you for taking my sweetie away from me and my brother, and my family. I miss her so much. I would do anything to have her back for just one second, just to tell her thank you or at least to say goodbye."

"I am a retired prison guard for the state of California for the Department of Corrections," said Robert Parent, brother of a Metrolink victim. "The only satisfaction for me that I can think at this time is where Mr. Alvarez is going and what he will be up against for the rest of his life. Mr. Alvarez, in prison there are rules that you must live by. The number one rule is respect. Even the inmates do not respect what you have done."

"I hope someday your God will forgive you, right now I can't and my family can't," said Todd McKeown, brother of a Metrolink victim.

The sentencing ended the criminal proceeding but a civil trial is on the way. Many family members of the victims say Metrolink is also to blame for the disaster.

 

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