A 23-year-old man is scheduled to be arraigned next month for allegedly using a shank in Orange County jail to slash the face of an informant who cooperated with prosecutors in an attempted murder case against him.
Douglas Steven Lopez is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and threatening a witness with sentencing enhancements for using a deadly weapon and gang activity. His arraignment is set for April 1.
On June 24, 2013, Lopez tried to rob an unemployed, middle-aged man in his late 40s at Memorial Park in Santa Ana, according to Deputy District Attorney Chris Alex. The victim was targeted for extortion and robbery because Lopez’s gang figured he had some cash, Alex said.
A good Samaritan who frequented the park came to the victim’s aid, and Lopez shot him two inches below his heart, but he survived, Alex said.
The attempted robbery victim and good Samaritan knew their attacker, which led police to Lopez, Alex said.
Lopez was convicted in December 2014 of attempted murder, attempted robbery and attempted extortion with multiple sentencing enhancements for using a gun and committing a crime for the benefit of a gang.
A man arrested along with Lopez two weeks after the crime decided to cooperate with investigators and told them Lopez had confessed to him about the shooting, Alex said.
That man did not testify against Lopez during his trial, but because Alex was required to turn over all of his evidence to defense attorneys by law, the defendant somehow learned the identity of his accuser, the prosecutor said.
On April 21, 2015, just before Lopez was going to be put on a bus to prison to serve a roughly 70-years-to-life sentence, he walked into the jail’s “chow hall” and stabbed the informant in the face, Alex said. The informant sustained superficial wounds, the prosecutor said.
The case shows the dangers to informants when evidence is revealed in the course of legal proceedings, Alex said.
“This stabbing illustrates the reality that those who cooperate with law enforcement to implicate gang members risk becoming the target of violent retaliation,” Alex said. “It is therefore necessary that their identities be protected unless, as was the case here, disclosure is constitutionally mandated.”
–City News Service
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