Reedley man sentenced to life in prison

Austin Alvarez given 114 years for the Christmas Day murders of his grandmother and family friend

Darren Fraser
Published June 27, 2024  • 
9:30 am

REEDLEY – A man from Reedley has been sentenced to a lifetime in prison for the murder of his own grandmother and a family friend, along with the attempted murder of his grandfather.

On June 20, 2024, Austin Gabriel Alvarez was sentenced to 114 years in Wasco State Prison for the killings, which occurred on Christmas day. Fresno Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Wilson pronounced the sentence on Alvarez.

“There is no sentence I can give that’s going to bring back your loved ones. I’m hoping that the sentence today gives you some peace,” Wilson told members of the Alvarez family, who were in the courtroom.

Alvarez’s crime occurred roughly two and half years ago, on Dec. 25, 2021. Alvarez, who was 23 at the time, shot and killed his grandmother, Magdalena Alvarez, 58, and Meisa Rashid, 39, at a holiday gathering at the Alvarez home located in the 17000 block of Goodfellow Avenue. News reports identified Rashid as the girlfriend of Alvarez’s grandfather, Gabriel, but the family denied the two were involved in a relationship.

After the shootings, Alvarez fled the residence in a pickup truck. When he discovered his grandfather sitting in a vehicle, Alvarez fired at him but missed.

Officers from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, Reedley, Kingsburg, Orange Cove and Sanger police departments participated in the manhunt for Alvarez. He was later apprehended in Orange Cove.

To date, Alvarez has provided no reasons for the killings.

While he was awaiting trial, Alvarez underwent a mental competency exam at the court’s request. The examiner found that Alvarez was not competent to stand trial. The prosecutor in the case asked the court to re-evaluate Alvarez. In an April 28, 2022 story, the Fresno Bee reported, “After three mental health evaluations, the question of whether accused murderer Austin Alvarez of Reedley is competent to stand trial remains unanswered.” The two subsequent evaluations found that Alvarez was competent to stand trial.

PAST OFFENSE

On Jan. 5, 2019, Alvarez was arrested for carrying a loaded firearm in public and for having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. According to Taylor Long, public information officer for the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the 2019 case against Alvarez was dismissed after he pleaded to the charges in the 2021 case.

In an email to the Times, Long said, “Dismissing a lesser case upon a defendant pleading guilty to a serious charge in another case, such as homicide, is not an uncommon occurrence.”

She added, “Additionally, the 2019 case was dismissed with the ‘right to comment’ – which means our office has the ability to make comments about this matter as part of the sentencing in the homicide.  This provides our office with another factor for the Judge to consider at sentencing.”

According to the Fresno Superior Court website, questions regarding Alvarez’s mental competence arose while he was awaiting trial. A Feb. 14, 2022 comment posted on the website noted that criminal proceedings against Alvarez were suspended until the court could determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial.

On April 21, 2019, Alvarez was arrested for misdemeanor battery. That case was eventually dismissed. 

Darren Fraser
Reporter