Alleged gunman in fatal Chambersburg robbery gets post-indictment hearing

The alleged gunman who shot and killed Emilio Lopez during a 2012 robbery in Trenton’s Chambersburg neighborhood is gearing up for a post-indictment arraignment.

Emmanuel Cruz, 29, of Hamilton, is scheduled to appear in court 9 a.m. next Monday before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Darlene Pereksta. A grand jury indicted him last month on six counts, including murder, robbery and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose on allegations he fatally gunned down Lopez on the night of Nov. 16, 2012, near the intersection of Kent and Division streets. 

Emmanuel Cruz

Emmanuel Cruz

Surveillance video of the slaying showed Lopez, 34, walking down the street and getting shot while four robbers surrounded him, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. Lopez was rushed to Capital Health Regional Medical Center but died from his mortal wounds.

While Cruz maintains his innocence, three other defendants in the case — a trio of cousins who got arrested less than 48 hours after the murder — have all pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and are accusing Cruz of being the killer.

Jose Rivera, 24, of Trenton, pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 2016; Roberto Cruz, 36, of Trenton, pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2016; and Kenneth C. Rivera, 24, of Trenton, pleaded guilty March 13. All three self-confessed robbers are cooperating witnesses in Emmanuel Cruz’s murder case, which appears to be heading to trial.

Police arrested Emmanuel Cruz last December in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, more than four years after the grisly robbery-turned-murder. He is Roberto Cruz’s brother and is being held on $500,000 cash bail.

Roberto Cruz was set to get hammered with a prison sentence last Friday, but the hearing has been postponed to July 28 while Jose Rivera and Kenneth Rivera are scheduled to be sentenced next month for their roles in robbing Emilio Lopez on the night he was shot and killed.

However, there is a good chance the three self-confessed robbers will not be sentenced until after Emmanuel Cruz’s murder case is resolved with an acquittal, conviction, plea deal or dismissal of all charges, because the three of them have all chosen to become cooperating witnesses in the murder case.

Emmanuel Cruz in 2012 pleaded guilty to fourth-degree aggravated assault with a firearm and was sentenced to 18 months behind bars. Court records show he is currently being represented by defense attorney David Schroth.

Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor James Scott is handling the murder case on behalf of the state.

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