Man accused of beating coworker with pipe pleads not guilty by reason of insanity

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Aaron Lopez has several different mental health issues, according to his attorney. His bizarre behavior at the crime scene is part of his defense. He never tried to leave and just sat in his truck until detectives arrived.

Aaron Lopez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, Monday, by reason of insanity. His attorney said he was not in his right mind when he's accused of killing, Outi Hicks, last year at their job site in Fresno County.

Monday, Gerald Schwab said his client has many deep seeded and challenging issues.

"The doctors at Atascadero were able to say that's he's been dealing with schizophrenia his entire life. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder as well as two other mental health disorders that were diagnosed," Schwab said.

Fresno County Sheriff's detectives say Lopez was moving scaffolding with Hicks when the two got into an argument. He's accused of hitting her in the head repeatedly with a heavy metal pipe. She died a short time later. Schwab said right before and after the murder, Lopez was acting strangely.

"What we would be trying to do is show that it was a rash, impulsive act, that this murder wasn't premeditated number one and number two that it was a product of his mental illness. He couldn't understand the nature or wrongfulness of his act."

Lopez is being treated with medication that his attorney said, has improved his mental health. He is also seeing a therapist at the jail.

The proceedings will move forward as normal now since he's currently competent. If convicted he could serve 25 years to life in prison.
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