The weekend slayings of four Oakland police officers by a wanted parolee caused the postponement in Redwood City of a trial for a man accused of murdering an East Palo Alto officer in 2006, out of concerns that publicity in the Oakland case would affect the jury pool.Jury selection in the trial of Alberto Alvarez was set to begin Monday, but a San Mateo County Superior Court judge allowed a postponement of jury selection until Aug. 24, at the request of Alvarez’s attorneys, according to the district attorney’s office.Alvarez is accused in the Jan. 7, 2006, fatal shooting of Officer Richard May, after May responded to a report of a fight at a restaurant.Prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe said the East Palo Alto case had some similarities to Saturday’s tragic shootings in Oakland that took place after 26-year-old Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon was pulled over during a routine traffic stop by two Oakland motorcycle officers.Mixon reportedly had a lengthy criminal record and a warrant for his arrest for violating his parole for a 2002 assault with a firearm conviction, at the time.According to Oakland police, Mixon shot Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Officer John Hege, 41, and fled into a nearby apartment complex.When SWAT team officers burst into the apartment where Mixon was hiding, Mixon then shot Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, before officers returned fire, killing him.Alvarez was on parole for firearm possession and possession of marijuana for sale, both felonies, at the time he allegedly shot May during a chase from the restaurant, according to Wagstaffe.After shooting May multiple times, Alvarez allegedly walked up to May and executed him with a shot to the head, Wagstaffe said. May managed to fire one shot at Alvarez during the encounter, which struck him in the leg.After fleeing the area, Alvarez was arrested the next morning and has remained in custody ever since.Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against Alvarez.Wagstaffe said May’s family has been waiting for justice and was upset at the five-month delay. “They understand, but they were very tearful,” he said.The trial, which is estimated to last about two-and-a-half months, was postponed until the fall because of the difficulty of securing jurors for such a long time during the summer months.Also Monday, an Alameda County Superior Court judge postponed a preliminary hearing for Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle, citing the Oakland tragedy. Mehserle, 27, is accused of murder for the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART station.The judge said he wanted to make sure Mehserle’s lawyer, whose law firm represents the Oakland police officer’s union, would be able to give his full attention to Mehserle’s case.
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