Life in Prison for Joseph Lopez

Fresno, CA, USA Nervous foot tapping from Joseph Lopez became quicker and louder as his punishment was about to come down. A jury convicted Lopez of torturing and murdering 16-year-old Courtney Rice.

Lopez said, "Again, to Ms. Rice's family, I truly am sorry." Lopez apologized but maintained his innocence saying someone else killed Rice in 2006. Investigators found her body in the back of a truck. Lopez said during his sentencing, "I didn't do anything to prevent it either, and that's the most of what I am sorry for and for that my sorrow is infinite, but I have no knowledge of what did end up happening."

Four defendants went on trial. Lopez was the only one convicted of murder. Attorneys called the defendants and Rice bulldog gang members- living a life of crime. But Rice's mother Stephanie Rice blamed Lopez for luring her daughter into drugs. A judge ordered the media not to show her face in court. Rice said, "There was no regard for Courtney's life or what she was leaving behind, a family, friends, a child. There was no regard for her life at all."

The judge sentenced Lopez to life in prison without the possibility of parole- exactly what Rice's family wanted. With Friday's punishment, Lopez will likely die in prison, but he indicated he planned to appeal and take his case to a higher court.


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