By Alex Jimenez
OAKLAND, CA – Murder suspect Kevin Alvarado—who fled to Mexico nearly 12 years ago—had his bail set at $500,000 during a preliminary hearing here Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court.
It could have been worse—the prosecutor argued that bail should be in the $1-2 million range.
Alvarado is being charged for murder after he was arrested by border patrol in July and sent back to Alameda to face charges of a murder in Berkeley in Feb. 11, 2010—an arrest warrant had been issued a week later, but authorities believed that Alvarado fled the country.
Defense attorney Jesse Joseph Garcia, who told Judge Scott Patton that Alvarado—held on no bail up to the hearing—would not pose a flight risk if he were able to make bail.
Garcia suggested Alvarado would stay with his family near Palm Springs, and would be able to travel to Oakland for future court dates.
This proposal was met with skepticism by the judge who appeared less concerned Alvarado would be a threat to society, but that he is a flight risk.
“It’s now been 12 years. If he’s gone for another 10 years he would have escaped justice just by avoiding the charges,” said Judge Patton.
In response, Garcia argued Alvarado has demonstrated he is a “worthwhile member of society,” and has no plans to return to Mexico because he started his own trucking company in California, and has a recently newborn child with his wife.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Sjoberg opposed reconsidering bail, claiming there was no change in circumstance. Sjoberg also argued the only reason Alvarado returned to the states was because of trouble with drug cartels, and “had that not occurred he would still be in Mexico.”
Judge Patton intervened by explaining that the previous judge who set the zero bail was concerned that if Alvarado were able to post bail, that would subject him to deportation, but he confirmed that would not be the case and that would be a change of circumstance.
The judge ruled bail would be set at $500,000, citing the conditions in which a suspect could be held without bail according to the California constitution. The judge said flight risk was not one of the conditions.
DDA Sjoberg again recommended that bail be set between $1-2 million dollars but was interrupted by the judge, asserting that he had made up his mind.
The judge also ordered that Alvarado would have to wear a GPS monitor if he is able to post bail.