Tulare County man on trial for allegedly suffocating his wife to death

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A South Valley man's murder case is moving forward, after a hearing in Porterville on Friday.

Victor Lopez is charged with murdering his wife Samantha Lopez, a former Sierra View Hospital social worker.

The couple shared two children. Samantha had four in total.

The doctor who did Lopez's autopsy testified on Friday that someone suffocated her to death.

Prosecutors say that someone was her husband, Victor Lopez.

Three of Samantha Lopez's children told investigators they heard Samantha and Victor arguing on a night in November of 2018.

The next morning, one of them said they caught Victor in a lie.

She wondered where her mother was. He told her she was in the bedroom.

But when she asked why the bedroom door was locked, he said he locked it because no one was in the bedroom.

When deputies arrived at the house later, they asked the same girl if she could check to see if her mom was inside the house, because Victor wouldn't let the deputies inside.

A detective testified on Friday that when she went to the door it was locked.

Deputies left, but concerns over Samantha's whereabouts were mounting, so they came back later and confronted Victor again.

But they say he locked the doors and escaped through a window.

Deputies found him hiding inside a rolled-up rug in an abandoned shed nearby.

At around the same time, a sergeant found Samantha Lopez dead inside the bedroom.

While being transported to the substation, they say Lopez started to sob. The detective testified that he said, "My kids aren't going to see their mother like that?"

The detective also testified that Lopez indicated that his wife, the victim, was jealous of the relationship that he had with his children, specifically his daughter.

Sheriff's Sergeant Kenny Jones interviewed Lopez for about three hours.

During that time, he said Lopez never denied killing his wife and said the situation was his fault.

He also said that the last thing he wanted to do was hurt her.

"He paused, he looked up at me and he said, I took her away from my kids," Jones said in court.

On Friday, a judge found there was enough evidence in the case to move it forward towards a trial.

Lopez will be back in court on March 6th for an arraignment.

He faces 25 years to life in prison.
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