Judge to decide on cop killer's sentence

Officer Richard May, left, was killed by Alberto Alvarez, right, outside a taqueria in 2006. (ABC7)

February 7, 2010 4:15:20 PM PST
A San Mateo County Superior Court judge will decide Monday morning whether a 26-year-old man who murdered East Palo Alto police Officer Richard May in 2006 will receive the death penalty or life in prison without the chance for parole.

On Dec. 22, 2009, jurors in Redwood City recommended the death penalty for Alberto Alvarez after convicting him Nov. 25, 2009, of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of killing a peace officer for fatally shooting May.

Judge Craig Parsons will decide whether to uphold the death sentence imposed by the jurors, or to lessen it to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Parsons will also rule on a motion submitted by the defense for a new trial, according to Wagstaffe.

May was killed the afternoon of Jan. 7, 2006, after he had responded to a report of a fight at a taqueria on University Avenue in East Palo Alto.

He'd followed Alvarez from the area of the taqueria and over to nearby Weeks Street, where the two exchanged gunfire until May was on the ground.

Alvarez then fired two additional shots into May, including a fatal shot to the head, which one juror said was "the deciding factor" in recommending the death penalty.

Another juror said she believed Alvarez had shown no remorse throughout the trial, including when he testified that May had shot him first and Alvarez was firing in self-defense.

Convicted killer Scott Peterson was the last person to be sentenced to death in San Mateo County Superior Court after he was found guilty in 2004 of murdering his wife and unborn child.

Alvarez's sentencing will take place at 9 a.m.