Jurors on Friday convicted a 27-year-old Long Beach man of voluntary manslaughter in connection to a fatal stabbing in Belmont Shore last year.
Sergio Alvarez was found not guilty of second-degree murder, with jurors instead choosing to convict him of voluntary manslaughter for the stabbing death of 33-year-old Gavin Clason on the night of March 6, 2022.
In addition to voluntary manslaughter, jurors also agreed that Alvarez was guilty of petty theft and attempting to dissuade a witness.
The special allegation that Alvarez used a deadly weapon in the commission was also found true.
He will be sentenced on July 21.
Authorities say Alvarez stabbed Clason in the chest following an interaction between the two men in the 3900 block of East Ocean Boulevard on the night of March 6, 2022. Clason was declared dead at the scene.
During closing arguments this week, Alvarez’s attorney, Joe Gibbons, said his client was protecting himself when he attacked Clason, who had confronted him and was acting erratically, according to City News Service.
Gibbons maintained that this was a self-defense case from the start, casting Clason as the aggressor, who at nearly 6 feet tall, went after “the littlest guy,” Alvarez, who is 5-foot-1.
“I submit to you he acted in a very, very reasonable way given the circumstances,” Gibbons said during closing arguments, where he urged jurors to acquit Alvarez of murder and to consider the lesser crimes of voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.
Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Mac didn’t deny that Clason was the one who approached Alvarez that night, but she argued that it was Alvarez who “went overboard” when he chased Clason down and stabbed him on the ground.
“There was no danger to (Alvarez) at the time he chased Gavin down and stabbed him in the street,” according to Mac, who told jurors that Alvarez acted out of anger and not self-defense.
Mac added that Alvarez went on to tell a fast food worker not to tell police what happened and then went home to shave his head in an effort to cover up his tracks.
Alvarez, who was 26 at the time of the stabbing, was taken into custody the following day in the area of 10th Street and Gardenia Avenue. He has remained jailed ever since in lieu of $2.1 million bail.
City News Service contributed to this report.