Toledoan guilty of murder in holiday bar brawl

Hector Alvarado to be sentenced Sept. 10

8/24/2013
BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hector Alvarado, Jr., 40, right, sits with his attorney  John Thebes, left, during his trial before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Frederick McDonald for murder and felonious assault stemming from the New Year's morning stabbing death of Christina Henderson, 23, outside the South Beach Bar.
Hector Alvarado, Jr., 40, right, sits with his attorney John Thebes, left, during his trial before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Frederick McDonald for murder and felonious assault stemming from the New Year's morning stabbing death of Christina Henderson, 23, outside the South Beach Bar.

In the midst of what was described — and depicted in surveillance video — as an all-out bar brawl at the end of a New Year’s Eve party, 23-year-old Christina Henderson was stabbed in the neck and bled to death.

On Friday, the man accused in her death was found guilty of murder, but not guilty of felonious assault in the wounding of her fiancé, after a three-day jury trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. The verdicts were returned after 8 p.m. after more than five hours of deliberations.

Judge Frederick McDonald scheduled sentencing for Sept.10.

Hector Alvarado, Jr., 40, of 637 Sterling St., had been on trial for murder and felonious assault in the Jan. 1 stabbing death of Ms. Henderson, 23, and the wounding of Stacey Bowen, 26, at the former South Beach Bar and Grill, 2114 W. Alexis Road.

In closing arguments Friday morning, prosecutors told the jury they believed Alvarado was fighting with Mr. Bowen just after 2 a.m. when he swung at Mr. Bowen with a knife and inadvertently stabbed Ms. Henderson.

Alvarado
Alvarado

“Christina Henderson got in his way,” said Clint Wasserman, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor. “Hector Alvarado meant to do serious physical harm to Stacey Bowen. He meant to stab him with a knife.”

While the couple did not know Alvarado, both Ms. Henderson and Mr. Bowen could be seen on surveillance video actively taking part in the bar fight that eventually drew in Alvarado.

Much of the fight was caught on video, although during the four seconds or so when prosecutors contended Ms. Henderson and Mr. Bowen were stabbed, a bar table was being held in the air, obscuring the view of what happened behind it.

Defense attorney John Thebes countered that no one knows for sure what transpired — not even Mr. Bowen, who took the stand during the trial but testified that he did not know who stabbed him or that Ms. Henderson was near him when he was fighting.

Mr. Thebes proffered other theories for the jury, suggesting that others involved in the fight who were never identified by Toledo police investigators could have inflicted the stab wounds. He urged jurors to watch the surveillance video carefully.

“The video in a way is a trump card, and what I mean by that is it’s very good evidence,” Mr. Thebes said. “What you get is what happened. It hasn’t been doctored.”

The prosecution’s case was marked by a common theme: the crime scene was chaotic, and both bar patrons and employees who were at the bar that night were uncooperative with police. Employees actually began cleaning up the blood and the tables and chairs before police arrived.

Alvarado was not arrested until two months later after police identified him in the surveillance video and interviewed a single witness who described a man who looked like Alvarado as the one who did it.

Alvarado, who did not take the stand in his defense, has distinctive tattoos on his head.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.