Joseph Shepherd sentenced to 31 years to life in prison for 'cold case' murder of Andrew Alvarez

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Joseph Shepherd was sentenced on Friday to 31 years to life for the murder of Andrew Alvarez.

Back on July 13, a jury found Shepherd guilty of second-degree murder for stabbing Alvarez.

The sentence comes more than 16 years after the crime and seven years after Shepherd was arrested.

Alvarez was reported missing by his neighbors in central Fresno.

When officers searched his home, they found Alvarez's body decomposing, stabbed, naked, and wrapped in a futon mattress.

One of the first people homicide detectives interviewed in 2005 was Joseph Shepherd.

But the case went cold for nine years until Shepherd was in prison for another crime.

Analysts discovered Shepherd's DNA in fingernail scrapings from Alvarez.

During questioning, Shepherd admitted that he was responsible for the death of Alvarez.

Shepherd's defense attorney Curtis Sok said a relative repeatedly sexually assaulted him as a child. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2017.

Sok said that on the day of the murder, Shepherd was triggered when Alvarez made an unwanted advance. He says Shepherd acted in fear for his life, so it wasn't first-degree murder when he stabbed Alvarez.

If Shepherd had been charged with first-degree murder, it would have carried a possible sentence of 51 years to life in prison.

Instead, the jury found him guilty of a lesser charge, second-degree murder, which led to today's sentencing of 31 years to life.
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