40 years in prison for Fantasy Fest killing

A Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy fingerprints Peter Erik Hedvall after Judge Mark Jones handed down his sentence.
A Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy fingerprints Peter Erik Hedvall after Judge Mark Jones handed down his sentence.

A Key West man was sentenced to 40 years in state prison Tuesday for killing another man nearly four years ago.

Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones sentenced Peter Erik Hedvall, 29, in the death of Jonathan Alvarado, 32, on Oct. 28, 2011, during Fantasy Fest.

A 12-person jury convicted Hedvall of second-degree murder in March 2014. It carries a minimum sentence of 20.5 years.

Alvarado, a Venezuelan server who worked at the La Trattoria restaurant on South Roosevelt Boulevard, was found dead under a truck at 1019 Grinnell St. The Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head, likely with a rock found near the body.

Police reports say the night of the killing, witnesses at Don's Million Dollar Bar saw Alvarado wearing angel wings and Hedvall was seen in a light-colored suit. Both were Fantasy Fest costumes. They apparently didn't know each other; it was a chance meeting.

Assistant State Attorney Val Winter said Hedvall strangled Alvarado before bashing his head with a 25-pound coral rock.

"The brutality is almost unspeakable, barbaric," Winter said Tuesday in court.

"He noted that Hedvall used the wings on Alvarado's costume as a "strangulation device."

The sentence came after a morning of deliberations, which included the defense, led by attorney Jason Smith, arguing for a sentence of 15 years. Winter sought life.

Several witnesses spoke on behalf of Hedvall.

"I find in him good character," Nancy Hillman, who visited him in jail, said. "I would be honored to have Erik as my own son."

June Conrabi, who attended the same church with Hedvall's family, said he was "very respective and kind." Hedvall's mother and father were missionaries in Paraguay, she said.

Jones also took into account character letters from family and friends but after a one-hour recess, handed down the sentence.

"Any way you slice it, this is a terrible misconduct," said Jones, who noted that a life sentence is "more than justified."

In court Tuesday, Hedvall, in navy blue jail clothes and handcuffs, appeared unshaken. Smith said he "probably never met anybody who is as positive as he is."

Hedvall's remarks to the judge were brief.

"I have never made my living by criminal means," he said. "That's really all I have."

Probation for life will follow if Hedvall gets out of prison.