Alberto Alvarez, the man accused of shooting and killing East Palo Alto Police Officer Richard May in January 2006, will go to trial beginning Sept. 2, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Craig Parsons decided Wednesday morning.
Defense attorneys for Alvarez, 24, had asked that the trial be delayed until January because a start date in September could carry proceedings into the Christmas holiday period. Both sides expect the trial to last two to three months.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe asked for the September trial date and said prosecutors were prepared to start the trial as early as April or May.
The prosecution has not yet decided whether to ask for the death penalty, Wagstaffe said.
Alvarez is charged with killing May more than two years ago after May responded to a call regarding a disturbance. May reportedly chased Alvarez into an area near Weeks Street and University Avenue where Alvarez allegedly shot and killed May.
About 250 officers locked down the area of the shooting and Alvarez was arrested the next morning while hiding in the back seat of a car trying to leave the area.
Alvarez has been described by East Palo Alto police as a known member of the Sacramento Street gang. A crackdown by police against that gang in the two years since the shooting has all but removed gang members from the city, either through being arrested or leaving the city, according to Police Chief Ron Davis.
In the two years since Alvarez was arrested, the defense and prosecution have been filing motions regarding discovery of evidence, Wagstaffe said, but those motions are all but over now.
Before jury selection begins Sept. 2, there will be "dozens and dozens" of pre-trial motions, Wagstaffe said, especially if the prosecution seeks the death penalty.
One of the attorneys for Alvarez, Charles Robinson, said after Wednesday's hearing that he expected the district attorney to ask for the death penalty because it has not yet been removed from consideration.
Robinson and Eric Lieberman are defending Alvarez as part of San Mateo County's "private public defender program," Wagstaffe said, since the county does not have fulltime public defenders.
Alvarez wore a red jail jumpsuit in court Wednesday, sitting alone in a long row of seats usually reserved for a jury. Sheriff deputies stood at each end of the aisle.
The only words he spoke were "Yes, your honor," when Judge Parsons asked him if he continued to waive his right to a speedy trial.
Richard May's widow, Diana, sat with several friends in the front row of the almost empty courtroom for the brief hearing.