The issue is central to Monaghan’s case as he seeks to prove that Alvarez lied when he testified on Tuesday that he poured gasoline on himself in a suicidal fit before an oncoming Metrolink train smashed into his Jeep Grand Cherokee, which he had parked on the railroad tracks at Chevy Chase Drive.
The resulting train wreck killed 11 people and left 184 others injured. Alvarez is charged with 11 counts of murder and one count each of train wrecking and arson.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
“At some point, after you were arrested, you found out about [the arson charge],” Monaghan said.
“In order to get out of it, you said, ‘I poured gasoline on my head.’”
Alvarez testified Tuesday that on the morning of Jan. 26, 2005, he poured gasoline on his head and back in an attempt to burn himself after perceived slights from his then-estranged wife, Carmen, and fears that he would not be able to regain custody of his two children, whom he had lost after battling an addiction to methamphetamine.
But Thursday, Monaghan pressed Alvarez on his suicidal intentions, hearkening back to the trial’s opening statements when Deputy Dist. Atty. Cathryn Brougham told jurors Alvarez purposefully caused the 2005 incident in an attempt to get his wife’s attention.
Such attention-grabbing stunts were nothing new for Alvarez, Monaghan said, detailing a prior incident when Alvarez and his wife visited Disneyland.
The two had argued and an enraged Alvarez cut himself five times, he said.
“You got a reaction from her when you cut yourself, didn’t you?” Monaghan asked.
“Yes,” Alvarez answered, repeatedly glancing at the nine-woman, three-man jury, often pausing before answering questions.