A Palm Beach County jury had barely taken its seats Tuesday when a state prosecutor offered them an obscenity-laced introduction to Robert Alvarez, a 25-year-old West Palm Beach accused of gunning down two clerks at a Greenacres Circle K in 2010.
Saying she was quoting what a gleeful Alvarez told fellow inmates after seeing a news report of the murders of Ralston Muller and Michael Dean Bennett, Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts began her opening statements with the words: “I told you those motherf—- ain’t got sh–, those crackers ain’t got a f— thing.”
While acknowledging the words were shocking, defense attorney Robert Gershman said there’s no evidence they were made by his client. They were fed to prosecutors by a jailhouse snitch who desperately wanted to get far less than a 30 years he faced for a string of burglaries, Gershman said. Luis Alomar, who ultimately was sentenced to the 800 days he had already served, is the only person who will put those words in Alvarez’s mouth, Gershman said.
But he may not do it in person. He is jailed on bank robbery charges in New York so the jury may hear a videotape of his incriminating testimony.
Alomar’s questionable claims are among the many lapses Gershman said jurors should question in the double-murder case prosecutors have built against Alvarerz. The case has already been rejected by two juries and an appeals court.
While Alvarez was convicted in 2012, along with Darnell Razz, their convictions were overturned by the 4th District Court of Appeal. It ruled that a detective shouldn’t have been allowed to tell the jury what he believed were the racial identities of the men who shot Muller and Bennett and made off with $71. That, the appeals court ruled, was up to the jury to decide after watching the same grainy surveillance video the officer had watched countless times.
Two subsequent trials of Alvarez ended when jurors couldn’t agree about his guilt. Razz, 23, who prosecutors described as the gunman who fired the fatal shots, was convicted in June and handed a life sentence.
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