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Votes

Family Tragedy

Moreno convicted of first-degree murder.

<i>Editor’s note: On Friday, Sept. 23, a Fairfax County Circuit Court jury found Nelson Noe Moreno guilty of first-degree murder, after publication of the following article. Moreno faces up to life in prison. The jury will resume deliberations next week to recommend a sentence.</i>

The phone woke Ildefonso Gomes Alvarenga around 1 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2004. He didn’t answer. A few minutes later, the phone rang again. From caller identification, Alvarenga knew the call came from the man who had lived with his sister for more than six years, Nelson Noe Moreno.

"He said, ‘Brother in law, I killed your sister. … Come for the children,’" Ildefonso Alvarenga testified in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

Ildefonso Alvarenga testified for the prosecution Monday against his sister’s boyfriend on the first day of the murder trial against Moreno; the trial continued after the Gazette’s Wednesday presstime.

Ildefonso Alvarenga said he grabbed a jacket, and drove from Dumfries to his sister's house on Bedford Terrace, in Mount Vernon.

By the time he arrived 25 minutes later, police wouldn't allow Ildefonso Alvarenga in the house, now the site of a murder crime scene and investigation, he testified, fighting back tears.

<b>AS HE DROVE,</b> Carmen Alvarenga Ramirez ran the three blocks to her niece's house. She arrived a few minutes before police, she said.

"I got there and knocked on the door, Nelson opened the door," she testified. "One of his hands was full of blood and he was smoking and talking on the phone. When I saw his hand full of blood, I said, ‘What did you do?’"

Ramirez, who answered questions from Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Julie Mitchell, testified that the father of her niece's two young children said, "I did it, I did it, go in there and see."

Moreno, smoking a cigarette, appeared tranquil, she testified.

Calm, testified Fairfax Police Officer A.L. Buckhaults, who arrived at the crime scene just past 2 a.m. Moreno’s two children, both under 5 years old, were at the house, fully dressed, she testified.

Moreno told Buckhaults, "It was OK, he would tell me everything," the officer testified.

Buckhaults found large amounts of blood in the house, and blood on Moreno's hands.

Maria Janet Alvarenga, 27, was dead in the bedroom, Buckhaults testified, "frothing from two puncture wounds from the chest and neck."

Fatal wounds, according to Francis Field, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.

In addition to wounds to her upper back, right forearm and fingers, Maria Alvarenga suffered two fatal wounds — a six inch deep wound to the upper left chest and a one inch deep stab to the right neck that hit the right front artery, Field testified.

"It would have been very rapid, within seconds or a few minutes," Field testified.

Mitchell asked Ildefonso Alvarenga to identify the crime scene photos of his murdered sister coated with blood. "It's my sister, my little sister," he sobbed. "Why isn't my sister here?"

<b>MORENO WAS ARRESTED</b> for the murder of Maria Alvarenga approximately 2 a.m., according to police reports.

"You can’t get around what he did to her, the fact that he plunged this six-inch knife into her chest," said Mitchell during closing arguments Thursday.

"He stabs her to death in the immediate vicinity of two toddlers," Mitchell said. "I ask you to hold him fully accountable."

Public defenders Jeff Overand and Dawn Butorac refuted the first-degree murder charge against their client.

"In a case like this, my hands are completely tied. You have a person who killed Maria Alvarenga," Butorac said, in closing arguments.

But evidence proves Moreno didn’t plan the murder, and didn’t kill the mother of his two children willfully, deliberately and with pre-meditation, she said. "I ask you to come back with a verdict of second degree murder."

Moreno took the witness stand in his own defense on Wednesday, but testified that he can’t remember what happened.

"I’ve been trying to remember what happened in the 10 months I’ve been locked up, but I can’t," he testified.

The jury began deliberations Thursday afternoon and is expected to come back with a verdict Friday.