Speaking in the voice of his client, a defense attorney Monday delivered a closing argument in which a murder defendant admitted to jurors that he caused a deadly commuter rail disaster but insisted he never intended to kill anyone but himself.
"My name is Juan Alvarez. I caused an accident that killed a lot of people," began attorney Thomas Kielty.
Alvarez, 29, is accused of leaving a gasoline-drenched sport utility vehicle on train tracks Jan. 26, 2005, causing a Metrolink train to derail and hit another commuter train, killing 11 people and injuring about 180. He has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of murder and arson.
Prosecutors say he wanted to cause a catastrophe to get the attention of his estranged wife.
Reading from a statement written as if it were a first-person account by his client, Kielty told jurors Alvarez was shaped by a childhood of extreme abuse from a cruel father and by early involvement in drugs.
"Drugs were like friends to me, like important members of my family," Kielty said, speaking as Alvarez.
In the account, Alvarez's marriage to his wife, Carmen, was idyllic for a few months until she began finding drugs around the house.
"Carmen asked me to choose between her and the drugs, and I couldn't do that," the attorney read. "I would always go back to the drugs."
Kielty contended Alvarez had no intent to kill the people on the train or to cause the train to derail.