SALT LAKE CITY — A man convicted of murdering another man in a public park in broad daylight last year was sentenced to prison Monday.
"He not only put the victim in danger, he put everyone in the park in danger," prosecutor Chou Chou Collins said of Francisco Alverez. "It's lucky no one else got hurt."
Alverez shot and killed Jorge Veracruz, 29, in May 2011 at Riverside Park. Multiple Little League baseball teams were playing or taking team pictures at the time and one witness estimated that as many as 500 people were at the park when the shooting occurred.
Alverez, 57, was ordered to spend 15 years to life in prison for murder, a first-degree felony; one to 15 years in prison for possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony; and three to five years in prison for felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony. Third District Judge William Barrett ordered all of the prison terms to run concurrent with one another.
Prosecutors said Alverez got into an argument with a group of acquaintances and eventually pulled out a gun, shooting Veracruz three times. Witnesses testified that they saw the shooting and stopped Alverez as he tried to ride a bicycle away from the scene and dispose of the gun used.
Defense attorneys argued that Alverez was afraid he would be robbed after the argument broke out and did what he had to do to protect himself.
"I know that Mr. Alverez repeatedly claimed he was too drunk to remember what happened and I doubt that," the judge said. "He was sober enough to get on a bike and ride away and he was sober enough to get rid of the gun. I think he knows what he did."
Alverez had been previously convicted of murder for intentionally running over David Alma Brigham on Dec. 2, 1979, in Ogden. Alverez was paroled in 1986 and has been in and out of state prison since.