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May 5, 2015

MAN SENTENCED TO 26 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR 1994 STABBING MURDER OF EX-GIRLFRIEND AND LOCKING HER BODY IN TRUNK OF HER CAR

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:10 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to 26 years to life in state prison for stabbing and murdering his ex-girlfriend and locking her body in the trunk of her car in 1994. Samuel Agustin Lopez, 43, Placentia, was found guilty by a jury on March 3, 2015, of one felony count of first degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.

Samuel Lopez’s cousin, Xavier Francisco Lopez, 43, Anaheim, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder involving the infliction of torture. He faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on May 29, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-34, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Samuel Lopez’s older brother, Armando Antonio Lopez, 46, Placentia, is charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact and one felony count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. He faces a maximum sentence of 36 months in state prison and is scheduled for jury trial on May 15, 2015, in Department C-34, Central Justice Center.

Circumstances of the Case

Samuel Lopez, then 23 years old, had a previous on and off romantic relationship with Cathy Torrez, a 20-year-old California State University, Fullerton honors student. A week before the crime, Samuel Lopez and Torrez were in a romantic relationship, he had asked the victim to marry him, to which she declined.

On the evening of Feb. 12, 1994, Torrez had finished working her shift at a Sav-On drugstore in Placentia and told her co-workers that she would be meeting up with Samuel Lopez that night. At approximately 8:00 p.m., Torrez was seen driving toward a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop by one of her co-workers.

At approximately 8:15 p.m., the victim had parked her car in the Baskin Robbins parking lot and was writing a letter to her friend before she met with Samuel Lopez. Xavier Lopez is accused of being in the car with Samuel Lopez when he went to meet the victim.

After departing from the Baskin Robbins parking lot and arriving in another parking lot with the victim, Samuel Lopez and Torrez argued in her car. Samuel Lopez attacked Torrez with a knife, and after she attempted to flee from the vehicle, Samuel Lopez chased after her and stabbed Torrez repeatedly in the face, head, and torso. After moving to an unknown location Samuel Lopez got out of the car and opened Torrez’s trunk. Samuel Lopez used a newspaper and plastic bag to lift the victim’s arms and cut Torrez’s wrists and her throat.

Xavier Lopez is accused of participating in the murder. Xavier Lopez is also accused of closing the trunk where Torrez was stored after Samuel Lopez murdered her.

On Feb. 19, 1994, Torrez’s Toyota Corolla was found by a Placentia Police Department (PPD) officer in the parking lot of Placentia-Linda Hospital. The victim’s body was locked in the trunk and had several dozen stab wounds across the neck and chest.

Armando Lopez is accused of being an accessory after the fact after the murder.

In 2007, the Orange County District Attorney’s Task Force review aimed at catching Killers, Rapists, and Sexual offenders (TracKRS) and PPD began investigating this case when new DNA evidence technology linked Samuel Lopez and Xavier Lopez to the crime.

At the sentencing today, several family members of the victim and her best friend delivered emotional impact statements to the court. They described the pain caused by Cathy’s murder and that they will always remember that she was vibrant and full of life.

At his sentencing today, Samuel Lopez spoke to the court describing how everything that was said during the trial was accurate and that the crime was his fault. He also spoke about how he takes full responsibility for his actions and that he hopes that the conclusion of this trial will provide Torrez’s family and friends with relief from the pain he has caused them.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 07NF2414 / May 1, 2015

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