The jury reached a verdict less than two hours after hearing closing arguments in the case involving defendant Joey Jesse Lopez. Lopez showed no reaction as the guilty verdict was read in court. Lopez shot and killed Richard Hernandez outside a mini mart at Belmont and Palm as Hernandez lowered the lift gate on his delivery truck. Before wrapping up the case, the prosecution team replayed surveillance video showing Lopez getting out of a pickup truck, walking up to Hernandez and shooting him three times at point blank range.
Family members of the victim were struck with emotion as the verdict was read. "It's not going to bring my grandson back and what can I tell my great grandchildren? That their daddy is never coming back because they always ask. But it's a little relief," said Maria Perez, Hernandez's grandmother.
Lopez's defense attorney was asking for a second-degree murder conviction arguing the murder was not premeditated.
Despite the guilty ruling, the second phase of the trial concerning the sanity of the defendant will continue on Monday. "I'm happy about that, now we'll go on and finish this off and hope for the best," said Bernice Lujan, the victim's mother.
If found guilty by reason of insanity, Lopez could serve a 50 year to life sentence in a mental institution.