LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles judge has refused to dismiss murder charges against a man accused of causing a 2005 train crash that killed 11 people and injured dozens more.
Superior Court Judge David Wesley denied a defense motion for Juan Manuel Alvarez today and said the prosecution presented enough evidence to have the 29-year-old defendant stand trial.
Defense attorneys had argued that Alvarez was only trying to kill himself when he drove his gasoline-soaked Jeep on train tracks in Glendale. He fled the Jeep as a Los Angeles-bound commuter train bore down, rammed the empty vehicle, setting off a chain-reaction collision with a second train. One of the trains also caught fire.
The resulting crash killed 11 people and injured about 180 (correct).
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty after charging Alvarez with 11 counts of murder and one count of arson.
Authorities intially believed Alvarez tried to commit suicide but other evidence showed his malicious intent to cause the crash, including dousing his SUV with gasoline and setting the vehicle's emergency brake.