On Wednesday, 32-year-old Erick Morales was convicted of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait, which means he lured the victim, San Mateo County prosecutor Jeff Finigan said.
The charges date back to May 21, 2001, when 15-year-old Quetzalcoatl Alba was found stabbed to death in the storage room of a Park Plaza Drive apartment complex frequented by students of Westmoor High School, where then-19-year-old Morales and Alba were enrolled.
The case went cold until a 2007 tip led police to a knife, Morales’ blood-stained sweatshirt and Alba’s cellphone, which were buried behind a Miriam Street house where Morales lived in 2001 with his lover, Reynaldo Maldonado, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors laid out several possible scenarios of what took place the day of the murder, one of which is that Morales stabbed Alba while Maldonado held him down.
A motive for the attack remains unclear, according to Finigan. The defendants, childhood friends from Guatemala, both fled the area in the weeks following the incident.
According to the Florida informant who helped break the case, Maldonado confessed to taking part in the crime. And inside Maldonado’s Miami home, investigators found a photograph of Morales cradling Alba’s corpse.
Maldonado was sent to California to face charges in 2007 and Morales was extradited in 2009, following a DUI arrest in Long Island, N.Y.
Maldonado was convicted of first-degree murder Nov. 13 and is expected to be sentenced in March.
Morales is being held without bail until his scheduled sentencing April 1. He faces a mandatory penalty of life without parole.