A California woman who received a multimillion-dollar settlement from a police department over the shooting death of her son has reportedly been arrested for attempting to buy guns for members of another son’s gang.
According to KFSN-TV, Christina Lopez received a $4.9 million settlement in 2017 after her son was killed by officers during an incident in which he reportedly was running from police during an attempted arrest.
The local outlet noted that Lopez, of Madera, was paid the settlement after the death of her 16-year-old son Isiah Murrietta-Golding. She was recently arrested after buying guns and giving them to a 14-year-old son as well as members of a gang with which he is reportedly associated.
“Clearly, this family has been seasoned in this type of behavior,” Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp told KFSN-TV.
“She has continued now to take the money from her settlement that she received from the city of Fresno to buy a home where she lives in addition to spending thousands of dollars on guns that she has in turn given to her 14-year-old son,” Smittcamp charged.
Now, the mother is facing 22 counts of firearms trafficking as prosecutors allege she purchased the weapons so they could be distributed to the gang members.
However, her attorney, Ralph Torres, said that Lopez can account for all of the money she was paid in the settlement, adding that she moved out of the Calwa area so she could remove her other children from troublesome influences. He went on to say that giving guns to gang members would be out of character for her.
“We have to see what they have and what type of concrete, physical evidence that we can look at so that would connect her,” Torres added.
According to Fresno County sheriff’s officials, an investigation that led to Lopez actually began with the murder of Javier Fernandez in Malaga in July, as well as Adrian Gamboa in Fresno in September. KFSN-TV reported that the outlet managed to obtain court documents that described how authorities managed to learn of another murder plot from suspects who were under surveillance involving Jessie Aguilar, a ranking gang member already behind bars for a 2014 murder.
“Especially troublesome, Aguilar was directing teenagers belonging to the gang to commit murders,” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told the outlet.
Sheriff’s department investigators say that Aguilar told Juan Alfredo Venegas who to murder following Gamboa’s killing; Venegas attempted to entice Lopez’s 14-year-old son to assist.
“They arranged to meet the victim at Calwa Park, but Fresno County sheriff’s detectives prevented the murder and arrested Venegas with a gun converted to be a machine gun,” KFSN-TV reported.
One legal analyst, Tony Capozzi, said it won’t be easy for Torres to refute surveillance evidence.
“That’s very substantial, strong evidence as to what they were talking about obviously,” Capozzi said. “But then, did they follow up and do something? Yes, they did. One of them was at the park and found by the police, arrested, and what he said on the phone was found in his car.”
Lopez, meanwhile, is currently in jail and is awaiting her first court appearance.
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