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Lopez guilty of reckless manslaughter

WALSENBURG — Appearing shackled and dressed in a bright yellow Huerfano County Jail jump suit, 23-year old Roberto Lopez, was sentenced to six years in the state department of corrections for the January 2013 stabbing death of his La Veta roommate Eraclio Lopez-Lopez, in a plea agreement to reckless manslaughter. “I want to apologize to everyone for what happened, I know it is difficult to prove who really did this, but I want to say I’m sorry,” Roberto Lopez said through a court translator. The defendant’s attorney, Patrick McCarville, said from his first meetings with Lopez in January 2013, he told him, “ I could not have done this, but if I did, it was the devil inside of me”. The six-year sentence will be

off-set by the 437 days Lopez, a Mexican national, has spent in custody at the Huerfano County Jail on $100,000 bond and an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement hold since his arrest. “In a perfect world there would have been a trial and maybe a more satisfactory solution in this case,” said Third Judicial District Chief Judge Claude Appel to the victim’s brother, Juan Lopez, who voiced his displeasure at the length of the sentence. Juan Lopez was also a roommate in the mobile home where the stabbing occurred, and appeared in court and spoke through a translator before the sentence was handed down. “There are three fatherless children and I don’t think its fair he gets so few years. This affected my family very much, my mother, father and all my siblings. He committed a serious crime,” he said. The defendant and the victim shared the mobile home in the 600 block of East Ryus (Space #7) with a number of other undocumented aliens who worked for a La Veta resident. District Attorney Frank Ruybalid told the court the victim suffered two stab wounds, one somewhat superficial, but the other a deep wound to the femoral artery of his left leg which caused profuse blood loss and a quick death. Ruybalid said the defendant did not stay and render any aid to the victim, instead, changed his clothing, threw the murder weapon into a snow covered embankment, and made his way to Walsenburg where he used a false name to check into the Anchor Motel. “Roberto Lopez did nothing whatsoever to assist Eraclio Lopez to prevent the blood loss and possibly save his life,” Ruybalid said. McCarville told the court there had always been strong alternative suspect evidence throughout the case saying a bloody belt with an AK47 machine gun logo found in the defendant’s bedroom belonged to another of the roommates, Venhur Hernandez. McCarville said, while Lopez did flee La Veta for Walsenburg, it was Hernandez who also had blood on his clothing, who immediately left Colorado for his native Mexico. “When his sentence is concluded he will be a productive member of Mexican society,” McCarville said of Lopez. “He is not a bad guy,” he said, “but he found himself in a bad situation. Roberto is extremely remorseful in the death of Eraclio.” Along with the six-year sentence, Lopez will face three years of probation, be deported to Mexico, and ordered to pay court costs.