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Driver convicted of murdering eight people in Texas

A jury on Friday convicted a man of eight counts of intoxication manslaughter after he drove into a crowd of migrants outside a shelter in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, last year, killing eight people.

The man, George Alvarez, 35, of Brownsville, was convicted after a weeklong trial, according to Edward Sandoval, a Cameron County prosecutor. Mr. Alvarez faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge, Mr. Sandoval said. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin Friday afternoon, Mr. Sandoval said.

According to witnesses and authorities, around 8:30 a.m. on May 7, 2023, Mr. Alvarez drove a Range Rover through a red light and drove into a crowd of newly arrived migrants outside the Ozanam Center, a homeless shelter in Brownsville that serves many migrants.

When police officers arrived, they found a gruesome scene. Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda said last year that six of the people struck by the vehicle died at the scene and two later at a hospital. Ten others were seriously injured.

Mr. Sandoval said the evidence showed that Mr. Alvarez was using cocaine at the time and was driving recklessly while under the influence. Investigators did not find that he intended to kill, Mr. Sandoval said.

Mr. Alvarez’s lawyers did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Friday.

Chief Sauceda said last year that Mr Alvarez had been arrested several times before, including on suspicion of burglary, assault, theft and driving under the influence.

After the crash, the driver was apprehended by a group of people as he tried to flee, said Eyder Hernandez, who was among those who apprehended him.

When he was arrested, Mr. Alvarez refused to cooperate with investigators, police said. According to a police report, an arresting officer said he heard Mr. Alvarez say, “Se me atravesaron” — “They were in my way” in Spanish — moments after the crash. The officer added that Mr. Alvarez showed clear signs of intoxication.

“He had droopy, watery eyes and a tired look on his face,” the officer wrote.

Many of the victims had traveled together from Venezuela to Texas and became like family along the way, Mr. Hernandez said.

Migrants at the Ozanam Center often stay only a few days while they work to secure travel elsewhere, Victor Maldonado, the center’s executive director, said last year. They “do odd jobs and get some money so they can move on,” he said.

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