ABQ church stabbing case unresolved 1 year later

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - It was a year ago this weekend that witnesses say a man jumped over pews and stabbed three people at an Albuquerque church.

KRQE News 13 caught up with two of Lawrence Capener’s alleged victims Friday to talk about how they’re coping. News 13 asked the District Attorney where things stand with his case.

The victims told News 13 they’re still very much dealing with wounds from the traumatic experience, both physical and emotional, and they’re still waiting for Capener’s trial.

“My faith tells me that I have to forgive,” said Adam Alvarez, but admittedly, it’s been a struggle for he and Gerald Madrid. “I always feel like I have to be on guard,” explained Madrid.

A year later, their stab wounds are still healing. But Saint Jude Thaddeus Church on the west-side where they attend weekly, is a constant reminder of a violent attack during Sunday mass, when witnesses said 25-year-old Lawrence Capener attacked Alvarez, the Music Director, with a knife during a song.

“He came at me so quickly and just started doing the ice pick maneuver, and he punctured my back and then sliced up and down my arm several times,” recalled Alvarez. “Just instinctively, I dropped my flute and I charged him,” said Madrid. “I had him against the wall and that’s when Adam was able to get away.”

Alvarez was stabbed eight times, lost function in his upper arm and can no longer play music. He’s had surgery three times in his left arm.

Madrid was stabbed five times in the back. Off-duty firefighter Greg Aragon was also attacked when he tried to take Capener down.

While the victims try to heal, Capener sits in jail, awaiting a September trial. “It’s my understanding that they intend to raise the issue of insanity at the time that the offense was committed,” explained Kari Brandenburg, Bernalillo County District Attorney.

Capener told detectives he was after Alvarez, claiming he thought Alvarez was a mason involved in a conspiracy.

But Brandenburg said temporary insanity will be tough to prove. Madrid agrees. “I believe he understood what he was doing, and knew what he was doing,” said Madrid.

Madrid said he’s still active in the church choir, but he’s constantly on alert. “I always stand with my back against the wall that way I can always see anybody that might be approaching, especially the choir area.”

Alvarez said he’s thankful he’s alive to share his story, music and faith. “I can’t thank the people enough of my parish,” said Alvarez. “I’m very pleased to see that the church congregation continues to grow and thrive.”

But both victims say if Capener is ever released, they fear for their safety. “The church is wide open, it’s not like they’re checking names at the door, there’s not an armed guard patting people down as they come in, anybody can walk in,” said Madrid.

Capener is facing three counts of aggravated battery, one for aggravated assault, and another for attempted murder. Brandenburg said if convicted, Capener faces 20 years or more. One thing the D.A. points out that may work in Capener’s favor if convicted; he may get a lighter sentence since he doesn’t have a criminal record.

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