Jose Alvarez pleads guilty to two counts of first-degree murder

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WENTWORTH, N.C. -- You could hear the anguish in the heavy voices Friday of those who loved Troy and Ladonna French. Members of the family got their opportunity to confront Jose Alvarez Jr., as he pleaded guilty to murdering the couple back in 2012.

Relatives of the victims called Alvarez evil, wished he would rot in jail and even forgave the 28-year-old before the day was done.

Alvarez was sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences by the Honorable Judge Ed Wilson. Alvarez has no opportunity for parole, as Judge Wilson said, "Mr. Alvarez, you will die in prison".

"All I can say is that I'm sorry," Alvarez said towards the end of the proceedings. The conclusion more than four years in the making revealed what lead to the deadly shooting, and gave more insight into Alverez's mind.

"The defendant simply became enamored by the physical layout of the French home," said Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer. "Almost hypnotized by the way the house looked, how it smelled, how clean it was."

According to his confession, Alvarez found a spare key to the French's home, made copies and broke in at night several times for six months leading up to the shooting.

His defense described the frequent break-ins to the home as an obsession. Each visit would take about five minutes at a time, and Alvarez would even watch the French family while they were asleep.

During this time, the state says Alvarez noticed Troy's handgun, a Hi-Point 9mm. Prosecutors say Alvarez stole the gun, which he used as the murder weapon.

On the night of Feb. 4, 2012, Alvarez went into Whitley French's room. The investigation revealed he was wearing a mask and stepped on a creaky floorboard, which woke up Whitley. Prosecutors say she screamed, Alvarez tried to get her to stop and he cut Whitney with his knife.

His confession revealed Alvarez tried to escape, but Ladonna French was at the bottom of the stairs. Investigators say at that point Alvarez switched from his knife, to the stolen handgun, but cut himself, leaving behind the blood evidence linking him to the murder.

"You can run, but you can not hide from your own DNA," said Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page.

Alvarez's defense described the motive for the shootings as a method for his escape. The case is now officially closed with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office.

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