Life without parole in slaying of Md. woman, 83

Jose Alvarado
Jose Alvarado (Courtesy Of Montgomery County Police - Courtesy Of Montgomery County Police)
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By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Asked whether he had anything to say before being sentenced for the murder of an 83-year-old woman who had been attacked in her home, slammed into wooden furniture and lit on fire, Jose Alvarado requested forgiveness and said no one understood his financial stress.

Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Paul Weinstein looked down at him, expressionless. On the judge's desk, in a large envelope, were photographs of Lila Meizell's charred body.

"Ask him if he saw these pictures," Weinstein told the court interpreter, picking up the envelope. "Show them to him. Hand those pictures to him."

Alvarado, 38, sat down and looked.

"I just want to tell your honor," he said, "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."

Minutes later, Weinstein imposed a sentence of life without the chance of parole. Last month, Alvarado's cousin, Ramon Alvarado, 33, was also sentenced to life without parole for the killing.

Alvarado paid his cousin $1,000 to kill Meizell, drove him to her house in Wheaton, knocked on the door and waited in the van for him to come outside.

"This defendant, your honor, is the reason why Ms. Meizell is dead," prosecutor Mary Herdman told the judge.

Meizell has been described as a kindly woman who went dancing with her boyfriend and befriended people like the Alvarado cousins, who did yardwork for her.

Her killing shocked even longtime police officers and prosecutors.

Jose Alvarado, who pleaded guilty in June to murder, said in court Tuesday that he was motivated, in part, by the need to cover up an earlier crime so that he wouldn't be deported to El Salvador, away from his wife and two sons.

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