El Defensor Chieftain
Saturday, July 15,
Jury convicts Lopez on all counts
Jurors took about four hours to find Lopez, 31, guilty of a combined charge
of felony murder and the alternative second-degree murder, kidnapping, criminal
sexual penetration, taking of a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence. Special prosecutor Rey
Montaņo said the felony and second-degree murder
charges would be combined at sentencing.
Houston, though, is not exactly
celebrating the verdict. "Nobody
won," he said. "We got justice."
Houston commended the efforts of
everyone who worked on the case, including Montaņo
and prosecutor Mark Drebing and investigator Angel
"They just handled themselves," Houston
said. "They're professionals. They never left one rock unturned, small or
big." He also commended the work
done by Lopez' lawyers, Mark Horton and Michael Rosenfield. "His lawyers were paid to defend him
(Lopez). They did a very good job. I give them credit for that," he said.
Houston said he was also
grateful to District Judge Matt Reynolds for the work he did presiding over the
case. The truth was brought out during
the trial and that's what brought the guilty verdict, Houston
said. The family was prepared to accept whatever verdict jurors handed down. He
said his family has found closure and added that now,
he can move on and live his life.
Counsel for defense and prosecution wrapped up their closing arguments
Wednesday morning with the prosecution focusing on all the evidence pointing to
Lopez, and defense counsel pointing out that the evidence was all
"All the evidence points to Ramon Lopez," Montaņo
said during closing arguments. "There was one person on the run that day
and that person was Ramon Lopez."
Horton said in his closing arguments that the evidence the state showed was
not enough to convict his client.
Lopez will be sent to the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas, where he will undergo a 60-day diagnostic evaluation
before he is sentenced.
Rosenfield said he had no comment on the verdict
but added that an appeal would be filed with the Supreme Court.
Houston described Crystal
as the kind of person who was everyone's friend. "She was a very sentimental person. She
would never harm anyone," he said. Houston
said his daughter was not afraid of Lopez and trusted him, and he killed her.
Crystal, he said, was very close
to her sister, Stephanie, and never could get over her death in February 2000.
"I would gladly let (Lopez) walk out of court if I could get my
daughter back but that's not going to happen," he said.