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Mexico to try U.S. fugitive for murder

Alvarez October 2, 1997
Web posted at: 9:47 a.m. EDT (1347 GMT)

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- U.S. fugitive David "Spooky" Alvarez will face trial in Mexico on charges that he killed four people in California a year ago, Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti said Tuesday.

Alvarez, 30, has been wanted in the United States for nearly a year. He is accused of fatally stabbing two sisters ages 8 and 12, their uncle and a gardener during a house robbery in September 1996.

The girls' parents and aunt survived numerous stab wounds. Alvarez's accused accomplice was arrested shortly afterward. Alvarez himself was arrested in a Tijuana, Mexico, restaurant in May.

However, Mexican authorities who had arrested him and were holding him in custody refused to extradite him unless Garcetti's office ruled out the death penalty. There is no death penalty in Mexico.

Mexico even threatened to free him if Los Angeles would not change its position.


"I am pleased that Mr. Alvarez will not be freed, that he will, in fact, face a measure of justice," Garcetti said in a Tuesday press conference to announce the move.

Mexico has a treaty with the United States that bans the extradition of suspects who could face the death penalty if returned.

There are grounds for Alvarez to face trial in Mexico for crimes he allegedly committed in the United States. Even though Alvarez is a U.S. citizen, Mexico recognizes dual citizenship because both of his parents were born in Mexico.

Furthermore, two of the people Alvarez allegedly killed were Mexican nationals.

"I am informed that the penalty for this type of crime is 50 years, and if he is convicted of multiple murders, they can in fact run consecutively," Garcetti said.

Alvarez will face the maximum penalty, 200 years, if convicted of all four murders, Mexican officials said.

While the compromise over Alvarez' trial settles one death penalty conflict between the neighboring countries, law and international relations professor Edwin Smith said tension between the United States and Mexico over the death penalty may be escalating.

"Certainly, Mexico understands that it can't protect Mexicans within the United States," the University of Southern California professor said. "But it can protect Mexicans for whom extradition is sought, and it's doing so."

Correspondent Jennifer Auther contributed to this report.


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