LOS ANGELES — A judge sentenced a man convicted of causing a deadly commuter rail crash to 11 consecutive life terms on Wednesday after denouncing him as a remorseless killer.
Superior Court Judge William Pounders said he would have imposed a sentence of "forever" on Juan Alvarez, if it was possible. Alvarez will not be eligible for parole.
Alvarez parked his gasoline-soaked SUV on railroad tracks, causing the Metrolink train to derail and strike another Metrolink train traveling in the other direction on Jan. 26, 2005. Eleven people died and about 180 were injured.
The jury foreman said earlier that he rejected Alvarez's explanation that he was trying to commit suicide. The defense maintained Alvarez changed his mind at the last minute about committing suicide and couldn't get the SUV off the tracks before it was struck.
Victims speak of pain, suffering
Pounders spoke of the excruciating suffering of the survivors, and many of them came forward to speak through tears about their lost relatives and the way the crash had changed their lives.
Some demanded that Alvarez, seated at the counsel table facing the judge, turn and look them in the eye as they told him of the havoc he had wrought on their lives.
"Please look at me so you can understand," said Elaine Sievers, sister of one of the victims. "You did a very bad and stupid thing."
Alvarez obliged some of the speakers. In some cases, he shook his head when they asked him for responses.
A few said they were trying to forgive him. Most said they could not.
"I wish you the most miserable life possible," said Henry Romero, nephew of a victim.
"Who knows if God will forgive you? I can't," said Hope Alcala, mother of Manuel Alcala.
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