Mom's 9-1-1 calls may hurt son's sanity trial

FRESNO, Calif.

Jurors are deciding now whether 29-year-old /*Joey Jesse Lopez*/ was sane at the time of the crime in December 2009.

Lopez's mother reported her son to police several times over the years. She once even got him convicted of making criminal threats. But now that he's on trial for murder, she has a different perspective on his actions.

For a moment in court Lopez sat alone, staring straight ahead as his attorney questioned a witness. His parents say loneliness is a common theme in his life, an emotion that may have pushed his sanity beyond the breaking point, leading up to the day he gunned down delivery truck driver /*Richard Hernandez*/.

In the years before the murder, Lopez was in and out of jail for drugs and violence. Often, the violence was aimed at his family.

On the witness stand in his murder trial, Theresa Lopez said her son heard voices.

He'd do anything to drown them out, she said.

He wanted God to stop them, she said.

We aren't allowed to show her face, but Theresa Lopez said she started suspecting mental illness as she called 911 on her son four times in three months before the murder.

"I just thought he was very upset and distraught because he felt his life was not going okay," she said. "He felt he had no one on his side anymore."

But her words to 911 operators told a different story -- one of violence caused by drug abuse.

"Yes, I need either the police or an ambulance because my son's going crazy on us," she told an operator during one of the calls.

"What do you mean he's going crazy?" asked the operator. "What's he doing?"

"I think he's high on meth," Mrs. Lopez said.

As the months passed, and the violence continued, her calls turned literally into cries for help.

"I don't know what to do to get help because he needs to detox so bad," she told a 911 operator through tears. "I don't want my son to die. I just want him to get help."

If the jury finds Lopez was sane, he faces at least 50 years in prison on a life sentence.

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