Alvarez convicted after 2-month trial
6Prosecutors said it was a scheme meant to demand his wife’s attention. Defense attorneys argued that their client, Juan Alvarez, underwent severe emotional and physical trauma that explained why the 29-year-old parked his sport utility vehicle on a set of Metrolink tracks in Glendale, setting off one of the worst accidents in the rail line’s history.
In the end, jurors deliberated for less than four hours, sending Alvarez to prison for the rest of his life for his role in the 2005 incident that left 11 dead and more than 180 passengers and crew injured.
The two-month trial in downtown Los Angeles highlighted a pattern of abuse that Alvarez allegedly underwent as a child growing up in Mexico. Defense attorneys trotted out family members who testified of frequent beatings and a pattern of neglect Alvarez experienced at the hands of his father that led to suicide attempts on more than one occasion.
An ensuing cycle of drug use and a rocky relationship with his wife — combined with hallucinations that played to his worst fears — eventually sent him over the edge, they said. Shortly before 6 a.m. Jan. 26, 2005, Alvarez parked his Jeep Cherokee perpendicular to the train tracks that cut through Glendale and Los Angeles.
Metrolink train No. 100, filled with early-morning commuters, collided with the SUV, derailed and hit a parked Union Pacific freight train on an adjacent track. The locomotive then smashed into Metrolink train No. 901, setting off a fiery melee in which nearby businesses set up triage centers and local hospitals were pressed into service.