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Train Wreck Arraignment Delayed

A man charged with murder for allegedly triggering the collision of two commuter trains during an aborted suicide attempt appeared in court Friday, but the hearing was delayed so he could undergo further medical evaluation.

Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, who also apparently tried to slash his wrists and stab himself after the wreck, was brought to court in what appeared to be a hospital smock and had bandages on his wrists. Standing in shackles, Alvarez had his head tipped forward and his eyes were downcast, but he looked up occasionally to glance across the courtroom.

Asked by Superior Court Commissioner Dennis Mulcahy if he agreed to the delay of the arraignment, Alvarez said, "Yes, sir." He said nothing else.

Authorities say Alvarez caused the wreck by driving an SUV onto the tracks, then changed his mind and left the vehicle. The vehicle was struck by one train, which derailed and hit a second train. Eleven people died and nearly 200 were injured.

Prosecutors on Friday filed an 11th murder charge against Alvarez, who could face the death penalty. Prosecutors have not said what punishment they will seek.

Outside court, defense lawyer Eric A. Chase said that there was a "lynch-mob mentality" in the case and that he wanted people to "take a step back and think about the consequences of their actions."

When asked whether he considered the murder charges excessive, Chase said only, "I want the heat to die down a little bit."

The Glendale police chief described Alvarez earlier in the week as "deranged."

The arraignment was rescheduled for Feb. 15. Chase said he wanted time to get opinions from medical experts on Alvarez's state of mind.

Even though this disaster was the result of an intentional act, not an accident, there is still an outstanding safety issue, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen, one that critics contend could have reduced the numbers of those injured and killed. Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen says charging Alvarez with a capital crime "will monumentally complicate the criminal case against him and, in the end, almost certainly fail at trial or on appeal."

Cohen says that's "not because Alvarez hasn't already confessed to criminal conduct. But because his conduct and comments, and the comments of his family and law enforcement officials, already indicate that Alvarez did not have the type of murderous intent you need for a sound capital conviction."

In another development, a 911 tape revealed the drama moments after the crash as an employee at a nearby Costco store reported the disaster and at the same time directed other employees to fight the flames.

"There's a Metrolink that runs adjacent to the — oh, they need fire extinguishers! Quick! Quick!" she yelled to other workers.

"What's going on?" asked the dispatcher. "What's going on, ma'am?"

"The Metrolink derailed right on the side of the building!" she said.

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