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Killer of 11 train passengers faces sentencing

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2008/08/20 12:33

A man who killed 11 people by causing a commuter rail disaster in Glendale faces sentencing, one month after a jury recommended he serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During the penalty phase of Juan Alvarez's trial, jurors cried openly as survivors of the dead came forward to describe the anguish of their losses and the emptiness of their lives since the accident in 2005 robbed them of spouses, sisters, fathers and mothers.

Superior Court Judge William Pounders, who has presided over many high profile trials in a long career on the bench, admitted outside the jury's presence that he also had been affected by the survivors' testimony.

"I've never been so emotionally affected by evidence," said Pounders, who does not have the option to increase the penalty to death at the sentencing hearing Wednesday.

The prosecution described Alvarez as a remorseless, smirking defendant who didn't think of the case as a tragedy.

The defense painted the 29-year-old as a mentally disturbed man who was almost aborted by his mother, was shaped by a childhood of horrific abuse and became a methamphetamine addict. They said he drove his sport utility vehicle on the railroad tracks in a misguided attempt to get the attention of his estranged wife. They said he changed his mind at the last minute but it was too late to get the vehicle off the tracks.


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