Cop killer in E. Palo Alto sentenced to death

26-year-old Alberto Alvarez killed Officer Richard May outside a taqueria in East Palo Alto in 2006.

February 8, 2010 6:29:37 PM PST
A San Mateo County judge sided with a jury's recommendation and sentenced a man to death for killing East Palo Alto police officer Richard May.

Alberto Alvarez did not show any emotion in court. Not when the wife of the man he murdered talked about her loss and not when a judge ordered him to pay for his crimes with his own life.

"I don't think he hears it. I don't think he is capable of feeling what a normal person would feel. He doesn't have a conscience," Officer May's wife Diana May said.

The judge described the murder of East Palo Alto police officer Richard May as savage and brutal. Officer May and Alvarez had exchanged gunfire on January 7, 2006 when Alvarez made a decision that sealed officer May's fate and ultimately his own.

"He could have just run off, left the officer dazed on the ground but he came back and put that shot in the officer's face. That was the key factor," Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

A jury determined the execution-style killing of May should result in the execution of Alvarez himself. The judge formalized that sentence on Monday by ordering the 26-year-old killer to San Quentin's death row.

Officer Richard May dedicated much of his life to helping young people and his father says that legacy lives on.

Rick May says his son's commitment to raising money for youth programs and inspiring disadvantaged teens is now a mission shared by his family.

"The tough part is we've gone to dedications where a gym has been dedicated in his name. I apologize for this, the center court has his name in it and we get that everywhere," he said.

Officer may was himself a father leaving behind three children. The death sentence for his killer is automatically appealed.

The last person to get capital punishment in San Mateo County was Scott Peterson, who was sent to death row for the murder of his wife Laci.