The family of a East Palo Alto police officer killed in the line of duty are hoping they have new reason to give thanks this week now that a jury has the fate of their loved one's alleged killer in their hands.
Tuesday, the jury began deliberating in the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting East Palo Alto police Officer Richard May in 2006.
Prosecuting attorney Steve Wagstaffe called the Jan. 7, 2006, shooting an "execution" and said it was premeditated and deliberate, and asked the jury to convict 26-year-old Alberto Alvarez of first-degree murder.
If convicted, Alvarez could face the death penalty.
The shooting occurred after May responded to a fight involving Alvarez at Villa Taqueria in East Palo Alto at about 4:30 p.m. Alvarez suffered one bullet wound to the leg.
May had followed Alvarez down several blocks to nearby Weeks Street, where he tried to confront Alvarez.
Wagstaffe and Robinson said that prior to the shooting, May had used his baton on Alvarez as he chased Alvarez across Weeks Street.
May managed to strike Alvarez twice with the baton, according to the evidence, but that didn't slow him down and the two continued onto the driveway of a home on Weeks Street.
Wagstaffe called the baton use "appropriate," especially if Alvarez had turned around and used force on May.
Defense attorney Charles Robinson said Monday that a baton is not meant to be used in an offensive manner, and that May exerted "unnecessary and unreasonable force."
Once on the driveway, the men exchanged gunfire.
Wagstaffe said Alvarez shot first, and Robinson said May did.
Wagstaffe this morning called the shooting first-degree murder because of the time Alvarez spent firing at May.
He said that the first bullet that struck May hit him in the head and the second hit his shoulder.
May fell to the ground, according to Wagstaffe, and was still alive when Alvarez walked up to May and fired two more bullets into him.
Wagstaffe said he believes Alvarez fired the additional shots because he wanted to "finish him off."
"Why else would he take his gun out and fire it?" Wagstaffe asked the jurors. "Standing over Officer May and firing the final shot --that's the execution."
Robinson said Monday that Alvarez "was acting to protect his own life" when he shot May.
Alvarez remained silent throughout the closing arguments. He has been in custody without bail since his arrest the day after May was killed.
Closing arguments concluded at about 10:15 a.m. and the jury was expected to begin deliberating following final jury instructions.
Bay City News