Los Angeles, California - Almost two years ago, in the early morning hours, Samuel Rodriguez, decided to take his life by parking his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the railroad tracks.
Moments before the Metrolink train filled with commuters on their way to work made its approach, Rodriguez had time to exercise what he denied passengers aboard the train, free will and life. Changing his mind, Rodriguez fled his date with destiny but left his vehicle behind. In the wake of his irreversible actions, 11 lay dead or dying and 180 injured.
Today, through his attorney, Rodriguez argues that he should not be charged with attempted murder, which would result in his death at the hands of the state, if convicted.
"My client should not be charged with murder," said Jose Martinez, Rodriguez's defensive attorney. "He shouldn't be denied the right to take his own life by his own hands and in the time and manner of his choice."
Rodriguez has been under a suicide watch since his trial began. Despite that, he has attempted to take his life in prison and even during the trial.
"Yeah, about that," said Richard Burk, Los Angeles County Superior Court Bailiff. "Just the other day during his hearing I caught trying to hold his breath again."
With everybody carrying on with the trial, accustomed to his antics, Rodriguez first takes in a deep breath, filling both his lungs and cheeks up with air. His face slowly turning red and eventually purple, his hands still handcuffed behind his back, his brain finally succumbs to the lack of oxygen and he falls over out of his chair onto the carpeted courtroom floor.
With the judge and jury giving only a passing glance in the direction of the origin of the thudding sound of Rodriguez's body hitting the floor, Burk, slowly rises out of his chair, his eyes still reading the newspaper as he hesitantly puts it down on his desk and instinctively moves toward Rodriguez's unconscious body.
"He does that all the time," said Marie Bryan, court stenographer. "Maybe six and seven times a day. I wouldn't mind it so much, but it makes it difficult for me to record the gargling, yelping and escaping gas sounds he makes while he's unconscious."
According to filed pleadings, the court did have an order in place that assigned Rodriguez his own EMT's, however, Alvarez's defense attorney successfully overturned it, claming it was interfering with his client's life expectancy.
Back in the courtroom, Burk was unable to revive Rodriguez, who had to be transported by ambulance to the county hospital.
While at the ER, a deputy sheriff stands on duty just outside the curtain partition of the emergency bay as another one enters, placing yet another contempt citation on Rodriguez's hospital gurney for his failure to appear in court as he lay, still unconscious and under suicide watch.
"My client has so little going for him in life that taking it is the only thing he has to look forward to each day," said Martinez. "I beg the state not to take that away from him. I promise, he will do it himself."
"Mr. Rodriguez's record speaks of itself," said a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office. "We think it's best that he leave it in the hands of trained professionals. That way no more innocent bystanders will be killed or injured."