An attorney representing the man convicted of causing the 2005 Metrolink train derailment in Glendale that killed 11 people argued in court Tuesday that her client only intended to kill himself when he parked his gasoline-drenched SUV on the tracks.
His attorney, Tracy Dressner, told a panel of judges for the California 2nd District Court of Appeal that the facts presented during the prosecution of Juan Manuel Alvarez in Los Angeles County Superior Court didn’t support his conviction of first-degree murder and arson.
Alvarez was convicted of drenching his Jeep Cherokee in gasoline before parking it on the tracks on the border of Atwater and Glendale. He bailed out on his suicide attempt but left the Jeep on the tracks. The ensuing derailment sent rail cars into nearby Union Pacific train, killing 11 and injuring nearly 200. He was sentenced in 2008 to 11 consecutive life sentences in prison.
But Dressner argued some evidence — including testimony that pushing rail cars with an engine from behind makes them more susceptible to being pried off the tracks — that was not allowed in the murder trial could have contextualized the extent of the disaster for the jury. Had they known, she argued, they may have ruled differently.