As outlined in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Cynthia Alvarado was released from prison after her original life sentence for felony murder was overturned by a federal court.
Ms. Alvarado had been convicted for murder even though she did not shoot the decedent nor did she commit the robbery that led to the decedent’s death. In 2008, Ms. Alvarado, who was struggling with a pill addiction, drove her cousin Oscar to the park to buy drugs. As she waited in the car, Oscar entered the park and, unbeknownst to Ms. Alvarado, robbed a drug dealer at gun point. As he was coming back to the car, people in the park started following him and yelling at him. He fired his gun towards the crowd, jumped in the car, and yelled at Ms. Alvarado to drive off. Ms. Alvarado drove away, unaware that a bystander, Marta Martinez, had been killed. During her trial, jurors were skeptical of the prosecution’s key witness, and when they asked about the definition of “accomplice liability,” they were erroneously instructed that aiding after a crime was sufficient in itself to convict someone as an accomplice. After hearing this erroneous instruction, the jury convicted Ms. Alvarado of felony murder and the trial court imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
On July 10, 2019, United States District Judge Joseph F. Leeson ordered a new trial for Ms. Alvarado after agreeing that the original trial was constitutionally flawed given the faulty jury instruction. On March 11, 2020, Ms. Alvarado pleaded guilty in exchange for a deal that resulted in her immediate release.
Ms. Alvarado was represented by KRMFL Attorney Susan Lin.