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Teen says she feared watching her boyfriend kill her mother

A teenage girl told a Los Angeles County jury that if her boyfriend was going to kill her mom, she didn’t want him to do it in front of her.

During her two days on the witness stand this week, Cynthia Alvarez, 16, acknowledged writing several notes to her boyfriend, Giovanni Gallardo, on the evening her parents were killed.

One said: "I am to scared. I cannot do it." Another ungrammatical note read: "What about if she going to her bed. Can you kill her." A third said, "you do it."

Alvarez testified that she intended for the notes to tell Gallardo that she did not want to be involved in his plan. She said she was not encouraging him and did not want the couple dead but hoped he would carry out the killings out of her sight if he was going to do it.

"I didn't want to see her being murdered in front of my face," she said Tuesday.

Her attorney told jurors that Alvarez, who was in special-education classes, has a language processing disorder and has trouble communicating.

Testifying at her murder trial in Compton, Alvarez said she and Gallardo went shopping in the days after her mother and stepfather were slain. Gallardo, she testified, hung mini-bulb lights on her family's Compton mobile home, where he had killed the couple on Oct. 12, 2011.

Alvarez also told jurors she and her boyfriend shopped for Halloween party supplies in her mother's Jeep Cherokee. But what appeared to be the normal preparations for a teenage soiree were anything but.

In the back of the SUV, Alvarez acknowledged, lay her mother's decomposing body.

Alvarez, who was 15 at the time of the killings but is being tried as an adult, told jurors this week that she was at home at the time but did not kill the adults. She said she felt powerless to stop the crimes, testifying that she feared her boyfriend would hurt her if she sought help.

The bodies of Gloria Villalta, 58, and Jose Lara, 51, were found buried in separate shallow graves. Alvarez told jurors she and Gallardo buried her stepfather on the night of the killings, but the hole her boyfriend dug was not large enough to include her mother. She said the young couple kept her mother's body in her Jeep for several days, eventually burying her in a vacant lot in Norwalk.

Gallardo, now 17, is also charged with murder and is expected to be tried as an adult in the next few weeks.


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