Prosecution, defense make their cases at Hedvall's murder trial

skinney@keynoter.comMarch 22, 2014 

Prosecutors on Friday continued to make their case against Peter Erik Hedvall, accused of a brutal 2011 murder during the annual Fantasy Fest party in Key West.

Jury selection began Monday and ended Wednesday with 14 Monroe County residents (12 jurors and two alternates) empanelled.

Friday, Assistant Monroe County state attorneys Val Winter and Christine Poist continued questioning witnesses, with the trial slated to carry over into this coming week.

Hedvall, 28, is accused of first-degree murder in the killing of Jonathon Alvarado, a former server at La Trattoria Beachside who was 32 when he died on Oct. 28, 2011. Alvarado was found dead under a truck at 1019 Grinnell St., down the block from Don's Million Dollar Bar.

In his opening argument, Winter told jurors that Alvarado was "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police reports say the night of the killing, witnesses at Don's saw Alvarado wearing angel wings and Hedvall was seen in a light-colored suit. Both were costumes for the annual 10-day Fantasy Fest bacchanal.

Winter said Hedvall strangled Alvarado before bashing his head with a 25-pound coral rock. "I want to emphasize again two different types of attacks: The blow to Jonathan's head shattered his skull."

On Friday, defense attorney Jason Smith objected to Winter entering into evidence graphic pictures of Alvarado's head wound, calling the photos "unduly prejudicial."

Monroe County Judge Wayne Miller, presiding in Courtroom A of the Freeman Justice Center, overruled Smith but directed Winter not to show the photographs again. But the jurors might be able to look at them again at a later time, perhaps in deliberations.

Smith, along with co-counsels Alan Fowler and Jiulio Margalli, maintain Hedvall's innocence. "He has put his faith in you," Smith told the jury.

On Alvarado's death, "You don't want to compound that tragedy with another tragedy of convicting an innocent man." He pointed out what he called instances of "sloppy, incomplete police work" in describing the state's "circumstantial" case.

"There was a rush to judgment," Smith said. "This occurred during the busiest weak of the year, when law enforcement is stretched to the maximum."

Hedvall faces up to life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty.

KeysNet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service