Former girlfriend testifies against Lopez
A former girlfriend of accused murderer Corey Anthony Lopez told the jury in testimony June 19 about several incidents during their relationship when he allegedly choked her.
The 23-year-old Lakewood man faces first-degree murder charges in the death of 21-year-old Richelle Ann Best, whose death was attributed to strangulation.
Lopez also faces attempted murder charges of his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Eckendorf, who specifically talked about an incident in 2008 when, she said, Lopez attacked her after the couple had an argument. Eckendorf said the attack began when Lopez surprised her by grabbing her and throwing her onto the couple’s bed.
“He just started wailing on me,” Eckendorf said, describing being punched on both sides of her jaw before Lopez began strangling her. She said the strangling went on long enough for her to lose consciousness.
According to testimony, a friend at the apartment heard the altercation and intervened.
When asked if she ever reported the strangulation to law enforcement, Eckendorf said she did not, for fear of damaging her relationship with Lopez.
“As painful as it is to say after that, I still loved him and wasn’t going to leave him,” Eckendorf said.
According to Eckendorf, Lopez choked her on more than one occasion.
On cross-examination, Eckendorf was questioned closely about why, after saying she feared for her life with Lopez, she carried on a friendly relationship after their breakup in December 2010.
In particular, the defense attorney asked why she also had sexual contact with Lopez after the breakup on one occasion.
“I figured I was damaged goods and nobody was ever going to want me again,” Eckendorf answered.
The defense also questioned points of Eckendorf’s courtroom testimony that differed from what she told detectives last year.
In particular, on the stand Eckendorf said that she never actually saw Lopez being physically pulled off her by a friend during the 2008 incident. Instead, she admitted to losing consciousness and waking up with the friend by her side.
Also during the June 19 court proceedings, the jury had a chance to hear Lopez say, in his own words, what happened in the early morning hours of June 24 leading up to the death of Best.
The prosecution showed the court the tape of an interview conducted by Lakewood Police Department detectives two days after Best’s death.
In the interview, Lopez eventually confesses that he believes he accidentally strangled Best while the two were in bed.
“I’ve been thinking about killing myself the last few days over that,” he told detectives.
In the video, Lopez repeatedly insists that he never choked Best in anger and that he had no indication anything was amiss until he woke up the next day and found her cold and not breathing.
Lopez’ trial is scheduled to conclude this week.