Strong sleeping pills that cause "a host of psychological effects" may have fueled odd behavior in a man accused of attempted kidnapping, according to a defense attorney.
Melissa McConaghay, who represents Clifford Allen Alvarez, 45, of Temecula, told a jury today that the accused kidnapper has insomnia.
Alvarez, who is married with three children younger than 13 years, woke up on the morning of the kidnapping, March 11, 2008, drank vodka and took "halcyon," a particularly potent sleeping pill.
The drug "has a higher incident of psychological disturbances," McConaghay told the jury of eight men and seven women.
Defense and prosecution made opening statements today at the
Alvarez then drank vodka, which would have increased the medication's potency. About six hours later, he allegedly pulled up to a 13-year-old girl who was walking home from , the attorney told the jury.
Alvarez allegedly asked her for directions, and when the girl insisted she could not help him, he told her to get in the car or he would shoot her, according to the victim who took the stand today.
After the girl ran away, he drove to an area near , pulled up to an 11-year-old girl walking with three friends and accused them of throwing rocks at his van.
The chidden denied the claim, and he ordered the girl to get into his van. She refused, and the girl's father walked up and interrupted the incident, according to the second witness, who also took the stand today.
The defense attorney implied the victims' statements to investigators following the incidents were inconsistent. The first victim told investigators she could not remember what Alvarez told her when he tried to lure her into his van.
"I don't remember what he said. I don't know what he said," McConaghay quoted one of the victims. The next day, the same victim seemed to remember what the defendant said with clarity.
The young victims were scared, and they misinterpreted the man's intentions, she told the jury. "Think about your emotions, think about how we react. In this case, that's what happened. They experienced extreme emotions."
Both victims admitted during cross-examination that they were panicked and disoriented after the incidents. "I was too confused to tell (an investigator) exactly what happened," one victim said as she sat on the witness stand.
Alvarez's behavior seemed strange, the second victim said. "He looked agitated, looked fidgety," she said.