Date: April 26, 2016
OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF MAN CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTING TO MURDER TWO CHP OFFICERS DURING TRAFFIC STOP
SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) is opposing the parole of an inmate convicted of attempting to murder two California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers after being pulled over. Felipe Verde Lopez, 39, is currently being held at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. Lopez was found guilty by a jury on Aug. 19, 1998, of two felony counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation and sentencing enhancements for the use of a firearm and attempted murder of a peace officer. Lopez was sentenced to 11 years to life in state prison.
Lopez is scheduled for a parole hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at the prison before the Board of Parole Hearings (Panel) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This case was originally prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Bruce Moore.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos will be attending the hearing to oppose Lopez’s parole. CHP representatives including one of the victims will also be present to oppose the inmate’s parole.
Circumstances of the Case
At approximately 2:15 a.m. on Oct. 27, 1997, Lopez, then-20, was driving under the influence of methamphetamine traveling south on the Interstate 5 highway when he was pulled over for a traffic stop by two California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers south of Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana. After pulling over, Lopez got out of his car holding a gun in his hand and pointed it at the CHP officers.
Lopez began making several jerking motions with his hand indicating he was pulling the trigger and anticipating the gun to recoil but the gun would not fire. Both CHP officers retreated behind their vehicle for cover and warned Lopez they would be forced to fire if he did not put his gun down. Lopez continued to approach the CHP officers, lowered his weapon, put his hand on the sliding mechanism of the gun to adjust it, and raised the gun a second time and pointed it at the officers.
CHP officers shot Lopez seven times before he dropped the weapon and was arrested. Later examination of Lopez’s gun showed that the slide mechanism of the gun had a fracture which made it difficult to pull back the firing pin and fire the gun. The gun was still capable of firing live rounds.
Lack of Insight and Threat to Public Safety
Since his incarceration, Lopez has continually denied he intended to kill the CHP officers despite telling other officers who responded to the scene that he was trying to kill the CHP officers. Jurors in Lopez’s trial also found that he intended to kill the CHP officers.
At the inmate’s last parole hearing on Aug. 28, 2009, the Panel denied Lopez parole for seven years deciding that he continued to pose a risk of danger to society or a threat to public safety if released from prison. The Panel concluded that Lopez committed a crime in a “dispassionate, calculated manner as an execution style murder attempt. Lopez also has a history with a criminal street gang, displayed violent behavior during his time in jail, and failed to take responsibility for his actions.
In 2011, Lopez committed a prison rule violation for his willful participation in a gang related riot despite years of involvement in several self-help groups to learn how to avoid these types of altercations. The inmate denied responsibility of participating in the riot despite being found guilty.
The inmate continues to display violent behavior, denies responsibility for his actions, and associates with groups which place him in situations that raise his risk for violence. The inmate presents an unreasonable risk to public safety and therefore, should not be released.