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Lopez bound over for trial in La Veta stabbing

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — A 28-year old Mexican national was bound over for trial on a charge of second degree murder stemming from a fatal stabbing in La Veta after a preliminary hearing in district court on March 28, 2013.
Roberto Lopez has remained in custody without bond since his arrest at downtown restaurant in Walsenburg on Jan. 7. He appeared in court on Thursday with his attorney, Deputy State Public Defender Pat McCarville. District Attorney Frank Ruybalid and assistant DA Clay McKisson appeared for the prosecution.
Lopez is accused of stabbing to death Eraclio Lopez-Lopez sometime shortly before 10 pm on January 6, 2013 at a mobile home shared by a number of men who worked as laborers for a La Veta resident.
The state called law enforcement officials and one civilian witness, Venhur Hernandez, to testify in the hearing. McCarville didn’t call any witnesses, but cross examined each of those called by the prosecution.
The DA called Deputy La Veta Marshal Tracy Bonham, the lead investigator of the case; Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Milan Rapo, who found the alleged murder weapon, a knife, about 50-yards from the scene of the crime, a mobile home in the 600 block of East Ryus Ave.; Walsenburg Police Cpl. Joe Deatherage, who, along with former police chief James Chamberlain, arrested the suspect the day after the crime was reported; CBI Agent Jodi Wright and Hernandez, who was one of the men in the home at the time the stabbing occurred.
McCarville focused much of his cross examination on Hernandez, who admitted on the stand he had initially lied to investigators and only began to tell what he saw at the home the night of January 6 when he was interviewed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Alamosa.
Three interpreters worked throughout the 2 1/2-hour long hearing translating testimony from Spanish to English in the case of Hernandez and from English to Spanish for the defendant.
District Court Judge Claude Appel ruled the prosecution had met the burden of proof to bind the defendant over for trial on the class two felony charge.
Arraignment for the defendant and first appearance of a new assistant district attorney in the case has been set for 10:30 am Monday, April 8, 2013. McKisson has resigned his position with the district attorney’s office and begins his new position with the probation department this month.
The defendant remains in custody without bond in the Huerfano County Jail.