Man goes on trial for derailment deaths

LOS ANGELES, April 28 (UPI) -- A California jury will decide whether a Compton man responsible for the deadliest commuter train crash in Metrolink history is guilty of murder.

Juan Manuel Alvarez, 29, went on trial Monday on charges of causing a 2005 derailment that resulted in the deaths of 11 people and the injury of more than 180 others, the Los Angeles Times reported.


At issue in the case is whether Alvarez willfully set out to derail a train when he parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the railroad tracks south of Glendale Jan. 26, 2005.

Alvarez left the Jeep shortly before a southbound Metrolink commuter train slammed into it, setting off a chain of events that involved a second passenger train.

Defense attorney Thomas W. Kielty says his client intended to commit suicide but changed his mind at the last minute and fled after he was unable to drive the Jeep off the tracks.

A jury of three men and nine women will decide the case.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Alvarez could face the death penalty.

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