GLENDALE, Calif. – The suicidal man facing murder charges following a deadly train wreck that killed 11 people was granted a delay of his arraignment during a brief court appearance on Friday.
Juan Manuel Alvarez (search), 25, had stabbed and slashed himself after Wednesday's rail crash, and had been under suicide watch since his arrest. He was taken to court on Friday in what appeared to be a hospital smock and bandages around his wrists.
Standing in shackles, Alvarez's head was tipped forward and his eyes were downcast, but he looked up occasionally to glance across the courtroom.
Superior Court Commissioner Dennis Mulcahy granted the defense's request for a delay in the arraignment, which was pushed back to Feb. 15. There was no objection by the prosecution.
Asked by the commissioner if he agreed to the delay of the arraignment, Alvarez said, "Yes, sir." He said nothing else.
Defense attorney Eric Chase said he wanted time to get opinions from medical experts on Alvarez's state of mind.
Outside court, Chase said that there was a "lynch mob mentality" and that he wanted people to "take a step back and think about the consequences of their actions."
Earlier on Friday, Chase implied that an insanity defense may be in the works.
"When the police referred to the man who did this as deranged, even at the scene, obviously it raises issues of mental defenses, whether it be an insanity defense or a diminished capacity defense, but [it's] way too early to make those types of determinations," Chase told FOX News.
On Wednesday, hours after the multi-train collision that also injured nearly 200 people, Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams referred to Juan Manuel Alvarez (search), 25, as "a deranged individual."
Officials believe Alvarez launched a catastrophic chain of events after aborting a suicide attempt along with his SUV on Metrolink (search) railroad tracks in a Los Angeles suburb.
He has been charged with 10 counts of murder and is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday. He was originally due in court on Thursday, but the procedure was postponed due to his recovery from self-inflicted wounds.
Alvarez also faces one more murder charge for the 11th victim, whose body was found late Wednesday night.
Chase, who was retained by the suspect's family, had said he met with Alvarez but "it was difficult to communicate with him." Alvarez was originally scheduled for arraignment on Thursday, but that was delayed because one of his lungs collapsed, Chase said. Two local newspapers reported that he had used scissors to stab himself and slash his wrists following the crash. It was previously not known when those wounds were incurred.
A decision on Alvarez's defense will be made after a thorough psychological evaluation, Chase said.
Prosecutors may seek the death penalty for Alvarez, who has been charged with special circumstances — murder by train derailment. But Chase said he doubted the district attorney would argue that Alvarez deserved to die.
"I would actually be surprised if the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office ends up seeking the death penalty in this case," Chase said. "The death penalty in California has generally been reserved for people who go out and maliciously kill people ... it's clear he didn't intend to kill others."
Earlier, District Attorney Steve Cooley (search) said prosecutors were evaluating Alvarez's mental state in regard to the special circumstance allegation, but he asserted that it was no defense to the charges.
"His despondency doesn't move me," Cooley said. "The mere fact that he was a little upset or despondent doesn't mean he has a defense for anything."
Prosecutors may be able to fend off an insanity defense by proving that after changing his mind, Alvarez attempted to drive his stuck Jeep off the tracks. Police believe marks on the tires indicate Alvarez had tried several times to remove the SUV, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Alvarez, who had a history of suicidal behavior prior to Wednesday's tragedy, has been placed under suicide watch at a hospital's jail ward.
"As a lawyer, I don't really deal with irony, but it does appear ironic, doesn't it," Chase said.
Recovery Efforts End
Investigators picked through the wreckage of two commuter trains, searching for evidence to build the murder case against Alvarez.
A 911 tape revealed the drama moments after the nation's deadliest rail crash in six years, as an employee at a nearby Costco store (search) reported the disaster and at the same time directed other employees to fight the flames.
"There's a Metrolink that runs adjacent to the — oh, they need fire extinguishers! Quick! Quick!" she yelled to other workers.
"What's going on?" asked the dispatcher. "What's going on, ma'am?"
"The Metrolink derailed right on the side of the building!" she said.
Sixty of the injured were treated at the scene and the rest were taken to hospitals. An incomplete tally Thursday showed at least 23 people remained hospitalized, seven in critical condition, and more than 80 had been released.
Emergency workers officially ended their recovery efforts Thursday after determining there were no more survivors or bodies to be found. Police used laser measuring devices to create a digital map of the wreckage. Two large cargo containers were brought in to store evidence.
On Friday, the mangled train cars were to be carried off the tracks.
The tracks were expected to be reopened Monday, Metrolink officials said. Commuters, meanwhile, were taking buses from the Glendale station into downtown Los Angeles' Union Station.
A Troubled History
Police believe Alvarez may have tried to drive his SUV off the tracks after having second thoughts about killing himself, but that the vehicle became stuck. Forced to abandon his vehicle, he watched in horror as a southbound Metrolink train struck it and bolted skyward, hit a parked Union Pacific (search) railcar, then clipped the northbound train, officials believe.
Alvarez then apparently ran off to the porch of a nearby home, where he stabbed and sliced himself with scissors. A woman in the house called 911, and Alvarez told paramedics what happened as he was being rushed to a hospital. They radioed police, who arrested him. It had previously been unclear when Alvarez harmed himself.
Alvarez, had been ordered by a court to stay away from his family for allegedly abusing drugs and threatening them.
Alvarez's estranged wife, Carmelita Alvarez, had ordered him out of her home months ago, her family said, and in December she obtained a temporary restraining order keeping him away from her, their 3-year-old son and other family members.
"He is using drugs and has been in and out of rehab twice," she said in asking for the restraining order. "He threatened to take our kid away and to hurt my family members." She said he was "planning on selling his vehicle to buy a gun and threatened to use it."
Carmelita Alvarez, who lives in a converted garage behind her sister's home in suburban Compton, also told the court her husband had threatened to seek revenge on people he suspected of introducing her to another man. She said his drug use was triggering hallucinations.
She went into seclusion shortly after the crash.
"Whether we make any comment right now depends on my sister," her brother, Ruben Ochoa, told The Associated Press outside the family home on Wednesday. "We're not commenting right now."
Separately, a suicidal man who parked his SUV on railroad tracks in Orange County was arrested early Thursday, said Irvine police Cmdr. Dave Freedland, declining to say if it was a copycat situation. The man drove off when police spotted him and, after a chase, a dispatcher talked him out of suicide during a cell phone call.
FOX News' Jane Roh and The Associated Press contributed to this report.