Sanity of convicted murderer in question
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Joey Jesse Lopez is a murderer. Nobody's denying that after a jury found him guilty of killing delivery truck driver Richard Hernandez at a Central Fresno convenience store in 2009. But now a jury has to decide whether he was sane at the time.
"He was released from the psych ward by the authorities less than six hours before the killing," said his defense attorney Jim Lambe. "Common sense tells us that we're dealing with someone who's insane."
Staff at the psych ward diagnosed Lopez with alcohol intoxication and released him. It was his second time in the ward in three days, but Lambe says doctors missed a mental illness because they didn't have enough bed space to keep Lopez.
"Instead of people being held for 72 hours and being thoroughly examined, drive-by diagnoses are being made," Lambe said.
He says Lopez has a history of potential mental illness dating back to 2003. His family and friends say he mentioned hearing voices in his head. But prosecutors say Lopez is just a manipulator whose actions prove he was aware of what he did. They say he gave clear instructions to a getaway driver, hid from police for several hours, and was clearly in control when homicide investigators interviewed him not long after he was caught.
"Where was that at?" Fresno Police detective Todd Fraizer asked Lopez while trying to find out his whereabouts in the hours before the murder.
"That is in the area of none of your business," Lopez told Fraizer.
"Guess what does not qualify, as we know, as a mental disease or defect?" prosecutor Jeff Dupras told the jury Tuesday. "His messed up personality. His borderline personality disorder. He's not mentally ill. He's just mean."
If the jury finds Lopez was sane, he faces a life sentence and won't be eligible for parole for at least 50 years.
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