Prosecutor Stands Behind Life Sentence in Aggravated Robbery Cas - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Prosecutor Stands Behind Life Sentence in Aggravated Robbery Case, Denies Unfair Bias

By Julia Deng
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - 28-year-old Osiel Jose Alvarez was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison after violating parole and pleading guilty to robbing a woman in a parking lot.

The woman who was robbed, Heather Conner, is married to a former Ector County prosecutor. Community members are now asking if the court was more intent on serving justice or seeking revenge.

Alvarez allegedly grabbed Conner's purse while in a vehicle at an H-E-B parking lot in August 2013 then continued driving and dragged her along the pavement with the car in plain view of her two children.

He later swiped her credit card at multiple stores while she nursed a broken elbow.

"This lady is permanently injured because of what [Alvarez] did," Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland, who prosecuted the case alongside first assistant Brooke Hendricks-Green, said. "We have to send this message that if you rob somebody in Ector County then you're going away for a long time."

Bland said the severity of the sentence had nothing to do with who the victim was and he would have pushed for the same punishment had it been anybody else. He cited a similar robbery case, 16 years ago.

"A woman was dragged through the Walgreen's parking lot and we asked for a life sentence on that," Bland told NewsWest 9. "There wasn't any suggestion that we were showing favoritism then. Nobody thought that was harsh."

This time, dozens of community members have taken to social media to express their disappointment in the criminal justice system.

Michelle Smith wrote in a NewsWest 9 Facebook comment, "A life sentence for a robbery is an unusual sentence, unless of course you rob a prosecutor's wife. I'm just saying..."

Delma Barriga also commented, noting that murder and molestation convictions are often met with lighter sentences. 

She said, "...Something just doesn't seem right in that court room."

The D.A. maintained everything went according to procedure and the final decision was made by an impartial jury.

"These were 12 citizens that decided the sentence. 12 people that represented the community decided that this person deserved a life sentence," Bland said.

In addition to aggravated robbery, Alvarez was violating parole for a separate aggravated assault charge. His criminal history also includes two felony convictions in Missouri. 

Court documents reveal Alvarez will be eligible for parole in 40 years.

His defense attorney, Albert Flores, was not available for comment.

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