Three men to be tried together for murder of Emilio Lopez

Three men charged in the fatal shooting death of 34-year-old Emilio Lopez rejected prosecutors’ offer calling for 30-year sentences for murder and are expected to be tried together.

No trial date has been set for Roberto Cruz, 33, Kenneth Rivera and Jose Rivera, both 21, who all face up to 75 years in state prison if they are convicted by a jury of charges of murder and weapons offenses in the Nov. 16, 2012 death of Lopez.

No motive has been established for the slaying, and it doesn’t appear any of the defendants had any known associations with the victim, Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Gasparian said.

Video surveillance appears to show Lopez crossing near Kent Street when he is approached by the three cousins, each from a different angles, Gasparian said. They boxed him in and surveillance captures the spark of a gun blast as Lopez was shot in the back.

The murder weapon was never recovered, and although investigators know each defendant was armed, they have not been determined which one fired the fatal shot, prosecutors said.

Gasparian said she intends to call an expert witness to the stand who will testify cell phone tower evidence puts at least two of the defendants in the area of the murder on the night in question.

Authorities arrested Cruz hours after the slaying wearing the same clothes used in the murder, Gasparian said. A minivan that served as the getaway vehicle is registered to Jose Rivera’s mother, Gasparian said.

Gasparian said authorities also have a statement from Kenneth Rivera but don’t plan to use it at trial unless he takes the stand and says something that contradicts with what he told police, All three are expected back in court in June for a voir dire conference.

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