HUTCHINSON — A Reno County jury found 22-year-old Aaron Alvarez guilty of intentional second-degree murder Friday afternoon in the November 2011 stabbing death of his friend, 23-year-old Hutchinson resident Allen Frank.
The verdict came in the fourth day of trial in the case, which showed that Frank confronted Alvarez about striking his girlfriend earlier in the evening on Nov. 23, 2011. The two men had been drinking Tilt, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage, and had been to a Hutchinson bar that Alvarez was kicked out of. Witnesses testified Alvarez struck both his own girlfriend and Frank’s girlfriend inside a truck on his way home from the bar.
According to testimony, which included Alvarez testifying Thursday in his own defense, the two men argued at Alvarez’s residence, 116 Carpenter, where Alvarez stabbed Frank in the stomach and then fled the scene. Frank was airlifted to a Wichita hospital, where he died the next day, on Thanksgiving.
During his testimony, Alvarez acknowledged that he threw the first punch and that Frank was unarmed, but he maintained he acted in self-defense. He said he pulled the knife to scare Frank and didn’t think he’d really hurt him. The fatal stab wound, next to Frank’s navel, cut his aorta and nicked his vertebrae, however. Alvarez also said he fled because he was afraid Frank would come after him.
Jurors, who deliberated Friday for about three hours, considered lesser charges, including reckless second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. The second-degree murder conviction indicates the killing was intentional but not premeditated.
Family members for both Alvarez and Frank, seated on opposite sides of District Judge Tim Chambers’ packed courtroom, quietly wept after the verdict was announced. Alvarez was escorted back to jail, showing no emotion.
“Obviously, it was a tragic case and a very serious matter," Judge Chambers said as he thanked the jury for their service.
Frank’s parents, John and Kim Frank, said they appreciated all of the hard work by the prosecutors and law enforcement officers in the case.
“We lost our child," Kim Frank said. “This isn’t going to bring Allen back, but we are happy with the verdict."
Sentencing in the case is set for Jan. 4. Alvarez faces a sentence of between 12 and 54 years in prison, depending on his criminal history, for the severity level-1 felony conviction.