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Montgomery man sentenced to life for killing of 83-year-old

A second handyman who did jobs for a kindly, 83-year Wheaton woman has been sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. A judge in Montgomery handed down the sentence Tuesday afternoon against Jose Alvarado, who earlier pleaded guilty to murder in the case.

His cousin, Ramon Alvarado, was convicted in a trial. The two conspired to kill Lila Meizell to cover Jose Alvarado’s tracks after Jose had altered a check Meizell wrote to him.

The two drove to her house. Ramon Alvarado forced his way inside, smashed Meizell’s head against furniture, doused her with gasoline and lit her on fire.

As was the case during Ramon Alvarado’s sentencing, the judge today pointed to his utter disgust at photographs of Meizell’s badly burned body. He did so after Jose Alvarado had told him, through a court translator: “As you know, your honor, one is human and one has a tendency to make mistakes.”

“Ask him if he saw these pictures,” Judge Paul Weinstein asked.

“No, I haven’t had the opportunity,” Alvarado replied through the translator.

“Show them to him,” Weinstein said, giving over an envelope with the photographs inside. “Hand those pictures to him.”

“Can I sit down?” Alvarado asked.

“Sure,” Weinstein said.

After viewing them, Alvarado said this: “One more thing: I just want to tell your honor that when a person is good to you, there really is no reason for you to do harm to them. And as I tell you, I basically lost my mind … At that moment, I was just basically concerned, I was concerned over my family, and I just was not thinking.”

Alvarado’s attorney earlier had told Weinstein his client had grown worried after he altered the check that he would be arrested and deported to El Salvador, away from his wife and two sons.

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  December 22, 2009; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , From the Courthouse , Montgomery  
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