Man Convicted of First-Degree Murder in Killing of Cathedral Catholic High School Teacher

San Diego, California – A man has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of a Cathedral Catholic High School teacher, Mario Fierro, who was shot multiple times outside his North Park home in February 2021. The convicted killer, Jesse Milton Alvarez, faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury deliberated over the case.

Prosecutors argued that Alvarez meticulously planned Fierro’s murder after learning about his engagement to another CCHS teacher, Amy Gembara, whom Alvarez had dated previously. The defense claimed the shooting was an act of self-defense, stating that Fierro attacked Alvarez.

During the trial, evidence was presented showing Alvarez’s fixation on Gembara even after their breakup in 2019. Gembara testified about Alvarez’s persistent behavior, which led her to change addresses, install security cameras, and eventually move. Alvarez went as far as applying for jobs at CCHS to be close to Gembara, despite facing rejection.

Digital evidence revealed that Alvarez had been researching ways to kill Fierro for several weeks, including searches on gun ranges, shooting techniques, and queries like “how to kill your ex’s fiance.” Alvarez defended himself on the stand, stating that his searches were not meant to harm Fierro but were a form of emotional release.

Alvarez’s defense attorney argued that Fierro’s death was a result of self-defense, claiming that Alvarez approached Fierro to address concerns about a social media post showing Fierro and Gembara drinking. According to Alvarez, the image triggered him due to Gembara’s past struggles with alcohol. He alleged that Fierro attacked first, leading to a struggle over a gun that resulted in Fierro’s death.

Prosecutor Ramona McCarthy disputed Alvarez’s version of events, asserting that all evidence pointed to premeditated murder. McCarthy contended that Alvarez’s actions and preparations leading up to the shooting were clear indicators of his intent to kill Fierro.

The jury’s verdict marks the end of a trial filled with conflicting testimonies and emotional accounts. It remains to be seen how the sentencing on May 10 will unfold for Alvarez, as he faces the consequences of his actions in the tragic death of Mario Fierro.