8:40am - Brianna Convictions At Risk - Albuquerque Journal

8:40am — Brianna Convictions At Risk

N.M. Court of Appeals panel to hear challenge in Las Cruces today.

A 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling could jeopardize the convictions of five family members in one of Las Cruces’ most horrific child-abuse cases, the Las Cruces Sun-News is reporting on its Web site today.
Five-month-old Brianna Lopez died on July 19, 2002, after being physically abused and raped. She had suffered skull, arm, leg and rib fractures, had bruises on her head and face and had genital injuries.
The trial of five family members was moved to Albuquerque because of extensive publicity in Las Cruces, and on Sept. 12, 2003, the jury found the girl’s father, 22-year-old Andy Walters, and uncle, 20-year-old Steven Lopez, guilty of child abuse resulting in death, rape and other charges. The baby’s mother, Stephanie Lopez, 20, was convicted of two counts of negligent child abuse. Grandmother Patricia Walters and another uncle, Robert Walters, each were found guilty of failure to report child abuse.

In early 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited that in cases with multiple defendants, one defendant’s statement to police incriminating another defendant would be inadmissible unless the one who gave the statement also testifies at trial, the Sun-News reported.

All of the defendants in the Baby Brianna case gave statements that were entered into evidence, but none testified at trial, according to the Sun-News.

The high court ruling was to ensure that all statements were subject to cross-examination, but the ruling was unclear as to whether it should apply retroactively, the paper reported.

Appeals Court Judges Lynn Pickard, Celia Foy Castillo and Michael Vigil will be hearing arguments today in Las Cruces.

Prosecutors told the Sun-News that if the convictions are overturned it is unlikely the defendants would go free, but there would be a new trial.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
'They have the ability to do this'
ABQnews Seeker
Son's battle to free mom puts ... Son's battle to free mom puts focus on emergency guardianship
2
Face To Face with Sonya Marquez: Fighting crime in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Crime Stoppers enlists public help to ... Crime Stoppers enlists public help to solve cases, bring closure
3
UNM set to appeal unionization effort
ABQnews Seeker
University’s graduate students have filed for ... University’s graduate students have filed for union recognition with labor relations board
4
Woman charged in DWI crash that killed passenger
ABQnews Seeker
Incident one of two fatal crashes ... Incident one of two fatal crashes on I-40 Friday
5
Lawyer disputes son's claims
ABQnews Seeker
Attorney says secrecy rules keep her ... Attorney says secrecy rules keep her from defending herself
6
NM targets wastewater wells to prevent quakes
ABQnews Seeker
State trying to avoid levels of ... State trying to avoid levels of seismic activity in Oklahoma, Texas
7
Suspect charged in bear spray attacks
ABQnews Seeker
Tucumcari man also accused of punching ... Tucumcari man also accused of punching police officer, trying to grab his weapons
8
Black Friday at Coronado Center: 'Brick and mortar is ...
From the newspaper
NM shoppers turn out in force ... NM shoppers turn out in force for Black Friday
9
Two suspects killed in separate incidents Friday
ABQnews Seeker
BCSO deputies fatally shoot hit-and-run suspect ... BCSO deputies fatally shoot hit-and-run suspect in North Valley, while woman who fired at law officers was killed near Clines Corners
10
South Africa virus strain sends jitters worldwide
From the newspaper
President Biden restricts travel as fears ... President Biden restricts travel as fears 'omicron' worse than delta