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La Veta murder suspect appears in court Jan. 24

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Roberto Lopez, 22, appeared briefly in court here Thursday, Jan. 24 on a return hearing set for filing of formal charges on allegations of second degree murder stemming from an incident Sunday, January 6, 2013 in La Veta.
Assistant District Attorney Clay McKisson had filed a motion with the court on Jan. 23, requesting additional time before formal charges were filed. He told District Judge Claude Appel he was still awaiting initial investigative reports from both the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Both agencies, as well as the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office and the Walsenburg Police Department took part in the investigation, which is headed by the La Veta Marshal’s Office. The judge granted the continuance motion, setting the next appearance for the defendant for 1:30 pm Monday, February 11. The judge also ordered a Feb. 4 deadline for filing of formal charges.
Lopez was advised of the arrest charge of second degree murder in his first court appearance on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Patrick McCarville of the state public defender’s office, who is representing Lopez, made a trio of motions at the Jan. 24 hearing. One dealt with pre-trial publicity which would restrict any comments to the media by attorneys, court personnel, or law enforcement officials associated with the case. Another requested that no evidence collected by law enforcement be forensically tested without a defense expert present. The third motion dealt with transportation of the defendant from the county jail to the courthouse.
Saying this was a high publicity case, McCarville requested Lopez be brought to the courthouse by vehicle instead of being walked across the street from the jail, the same practice employed during the Dougherty case.
Judge Appel granted the motion, and the motion concerning pre-trial publicity and is expected to rule on the other items at the February hearing.
The pre-trial publicity motion prevents any parties to the case, attorneys, court personnel or law enforcement officers to comment on the case to media outlets.
Roberto Lopez is accused of stabbing to death Eraclio Lopez-Lopez, during an argument at a mobile home located in the 600 block of E. Ryus in La Veta sometime after 10 pm January 6.
The defendant was arrested the day after the alleged killing, when law enforcement received a tip he was at the Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Walsenburg. Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain and WPD Cpl. Joe Deatherage made the arrest without incident.
Lopez remains in custody without bond at the Huerfano County Jail.