A man convicted of first-degree murder for holding a 15-year-old boy while his former lover allegedly stabbed the boy to death in Daly City in 2001 was sentenced today to 25 years in prison, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Reynaldo Maldonado, 35, was convicted in November for his role in the murder of Quetzalcoatl Alba on May 21, 2001, in a storage room “hangout” Maldonado shared with friends in an apartment complex on Park Plaza Drive, Wagstaffe said.
Maldonado’s former lover, Erick Morales, 32, was convicted Feb. 19 of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1. He faces a mandatory life sentence without the chance of parole.
The case was unsolved for six years until investigators received a tip that led them to the home on Park Plaza Drive, where they found a knife, Morales’ bloodstained sweatshirt and Alba’s cellphone buried there, according to prosecutors.
Maldonado was located in Miami, Fla., and was extradited to San Mateo County. While in transit at San Francisco International Airport, Maldonado attempted to escape custody, jumping 25 feet off of a parking garage while handcuffed.
He suffered serious head trauma in the escape attempt and was taken back into custody.
Investigators found a photo of Morales standing over Alba’s bloody body hidden in Maldonado’s possessions.
Morales was found two years later when he was pulled over in New York. Despite giving police a false name, a fingerprint check revealed that he was wanted for Alba’s murder.
Morales’ defense attorney, Tom Kelley, argued during Morales’ trial that Maldonado was an abusive lover, threatening Morales and his family with gang connections he said he had in Guatemala.
The two had met in Guatamala and moved to California together. Kelley argued that Maldonado told Morales he needed to kill someone or his family would be in danger.
Prosecutors said Morales — then 19 years old — allegedly lured Alba, a classmate at Westmoor High School, into the storage room and stabbed him repeatedly on his hands, throat, legs and torso while Maldonado held him.
Kelley argued that it was actually Maldonado who stabbed Alba after Morales was unable to follow through with the murder at the last minute, and that Maldonado forced Morales to pose with the body after the stabbing in case he was ever questioned about the murder.
Prosecutors, however, said DNA evidence supports their assertion that it was Morales who carried out the murder.
Maldonado had been charged with first-degree murder with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, but the jury acquitted him of the special circumstance, Wagstaffe said. If convicted on all counts, Maldonado would have faced a mandatory life sentence.
Paul Demeester, Maldonado’s defense attorney, made a motion for a new trial today, arguing that Maldonado could not be convicted of first-degree murder without the special circumstance allegation, but Judge Mark Forcum found that the jury followed its instructions and denied the motion, Wagstaffe said.
Alba’s parents attended today’s hearing and his mother spoke before the judge handed down the sentence against Maldonado, Wagstaffe said.