Suspect in Train Crash Is Charged With Multiple Murder Counts
In an update on my post yesterday on the LA train crash, I observed, “[I]t would be rather ironic if his aborted suicide attempt netted him the death penalty.” Apparently, it might:
The Los Angeles County district attorney said today that he would probably seek the death penalty for the suicidal man who abandoned his S.U.V. on a heavily traveled commuter rail track here early Wednesday, causing a violent wreck involving three trains that left at least 11 people dead and nearly 200 injured. The fierce collision at 6:02 a.m. left rail cars toppled and crushed like oversized toys and sparked immediate fears among the police in the Los Angeles area that the derailment was a terrorist act.
The district attorney, Steve Cooley, said prosecutors filed charges late Wednesday against Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, for 10 counts of murder with “special circumstances,” which makes him eligible for the death penalty. Mr. Cooley said the complaint would be amended to add another count to refer to the 11th victim, found in the wreckage late Wednesday night.
Prosecutors in California can seek the death penalty under one of more than 30 “death-eligible” special circumstances. In this case, the prosecutor told The A.P., the train derailment makes Mr. Alvarez eligible for the gas chamber. But the prosecutor emphasized that Mr. Alvarez’ case was still being evaluated.
A lot will depend on an evaluation of his mental state. But the man killed at least eleven people incidental to the commission of multiple crimes. I don’t expect a jury to be overly sympathetic.