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DEATH PENALTY RULED OUT IN SLAYING OF GROCER.

Byline: Michael Coit Daily News Staff Writer

Ventura County prosecutors said Wednesday they will not seek the death penalty against a Lancaster man charged with killing a Moorpark grocery clerk during a May robbery.

John Charles Alvez, 22, has pleaded not guilty to shooting and killing Marco Aurelio Rodriguez during a holdup at the market owned by Rodriguez's parents. Prosecutors also charged Alvez with a special circumstance that Rodriguez was killed during the commission of a robbery, making Alvez eligible for the death penalty.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Ellison said prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty because Alvez has no criminal record and because he was only 21 at the time of the shooting.

``This remains a capital case. We're just not seeking the death penalty,'' Ellison said.

Rodriguez, of Canoga Park, was shot to death about 11:25 a.m. May 5 at the Rodriguez Market on Moorpark Road in the city's central business area. The shooting was reported by another store worker, who found the victim with a gunshot wound in the head. One of the cash drawers also was found empty.

Moments later, witnesses saw Alvez run out of the market, pull off a nylon mask and drive away in a red car, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing.

Ventura County sheriff's investigators arrested Alvez as he left his parents home in Lancaster late the same day.

Sheriff's detectives testified at the preliminary hearing that Alvez was a spice vendor who waited around the market for at least three hours before the shooting. Between $3,000 and $4,000 was missing from the market, authorities said.

Detectives said they searched Alvez's vehicle and his family's home and found evidence linking Alvez to the robbery and killing, including cash and bags from the market, parts of a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition similar to that used in the slaying.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 18, 1996
Words:314
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