WENTWORTH — The state crime lab was granted permission by a Rockingham County judge Monday to perform DNA tests on clothing belonging to a Greensboro man charged in the deaths of a prominent Reidsville couple.
On Monday, Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson approved the DNA testing of five hoodies and a pair of pants all belonging to Jose Alvarez Jr.
Alvarez, 28, of 2811 Cottage Place, Apt. A in Greensboro, faces charges of first-degree murder in the Feb. 4, 2012, double homicide of Douglas “Troy” French and LaDonna Moseley French.
Alvarez is the brother-in-law of Whitley French Alvarez, the couple’s daughter and the only known witness to the homicides. At the time of the shooting, Whitley Alvarez, then age 19, was dating Jose’s brother John. The couple married in May.
Whitley Alvarez told investigators that on the night of the killings she woke up to see a 5-foot-8-inch man wearing a hoodie. She said the man was on top of her in bed, and that she screamed for her parents’ help.
Deputies said Whitley Alvarez told them she witnessed the man shoot her parents multiple times, killing both of them.
“There is no blood visible with the naked eye on the hoodies,” Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer said.
However, Blitzer told the judge that he wants tests done to see if there’s any trace of blood that cannot be seen.
Blitzer said he requested Monday’s hearing because Jose Alvarez Jr.’s case wasn’t expected to be heard again until after Jan. 1, 2016, when the district attorney will announce whether or not he plans to pursue the death penalty.
If he is convicted, Alvarez’s charges come with a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Blitzer and Alvarez’s attorney Vincent Rabil agreed in September to put off making a decision about the death penalty until 2016 to give them both time to review evidence in the case.
The attorneys also agreed in September to discuss whether to conduct tests prior to the actual testing of evidence — if the requested tests could potentially damage evidence.
Blitzer and Rabil met outside the courtroom Monday morning and mutually agreed on how to handle DNA testing on Alvarez’s clothing. The two walked back into court together holding a small blue piece of notebook paper that contained their written agreement.
Rabil and Blitzer told the judge they agreed that since blood isn’t visible, SBI investigators must take photos of both the front and back of an article of clothing and send the photos to Rabil for his approval. If further testing is needed the lab must take a close-up photo of where the testing will be performed and mark it with something like tape or chalk.
If Rabil doesn’t object to testing within 14 days, the SBI Crime Lab has permission to proceed.
Blitzer and Rabil also agreed to stop a gun-powder residue test on knives taken from Alvarez’s home because gun powder would not be detectable more than three years after the incident.
Tests for DNA and human flesh will be conducted on those knives, however, and Rabil will also receive photographs of the knives and may object.
Wilson also approved copying five hard drives, a laptop and iPad and a computer tower.
Jose Alvarez Jr. was led into the courtroom by bailiffs. He was dressed in a khaki colored jail uniform. He did not speak during the hearing.
He has been held in the Rockingham County Jail without bail since his Aug. 25 arrest.
The court has yet to determine his next court date.