District Attorney may seek death penalty In Lopez Case

SMITH COUNTY (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - The Smith County District Attorney's Office will announce May 4 whether it will seek the death penalty for a Tyler man accused of killing his girlfriend's 18-month-old son in November 2010, the district attorney said Wednesday.

A trial for Simon Lopez, 27, will be set for early 2013, Judge Kerry Russell of the 7th District Court said.

District Attorney Matt Bingham made the statement during a status hearing for Lopez, who was taken into custody in July in Mexico for the capital crime. The defendant had been on the run since he allegedly killed 18-month-old Jeremy Silva, the son of Emma Torres.

Bingham said in court that his office will not seek the death penalty for Ms. Torres, who also has been charged with capital murder. He said the state is hoping to try the Lopez case before it tries Ms. Torres.

Lopez and Ms. Torres, 19, are in the Smith County Jail on $2 million bond each. Both defendants had separate hearings before Russell on Wednesday.

"Their (Mexico) Attorney General's Office said if we were to seek the death penalty (for Lopez), it would not violate the extradition treaty (with the U.S.)," Bingham said to Russell. Bingham said in court that Lopez had been expelled from Mexico and had not been extradited.

In August, Bingham said his office might seek the death penalty for Lopez. Bingham said earlier that there is a treaty between the United States and Mexico about extraditions in capital cases in which the death penalty may be applied. Mexico will not extradite someone to the United States if they could receive the death penalty, even if they are a U.S. citizen, Bingham had said. Lopez is a U.S. citizen.

There is a restrictive and protective order now in place, which prevents any further comments on the cases, the District Attorney's Office said.

Autopsy results released in November revealed Silva died from heart damage resulting from blunt force trauma to the chest, according to information from police.

Doctors also noticed other signs of abuse, including strangulation, broken ribs and severe bruising, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Lopez was babysitting Silva and another child while their mother, his girlfriend, was at work, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. He reportedly contacted the boy's aunt and told her he was not breathing.

Silva was dropped off with the aunt, where he was taken to the emergency room and pronounced dead, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

During the hearing, defense attorney Rick Hagan, who was appointed by the court to be Lopez's defense attorney one week ago, told Russell that he would be out of the country in August, and that he would not be prepared to go to trial in the capital murder case before the end of the year. Jury selection in the Lopez case originally was set for August.

Bingham agreed with the later trial date setting, saying his office will prosecute the Kimberly Cargill capital murder case beginning May 7, and that the trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

Russell also mentioned that another capital murder case, for Dramon Green, is set for October in the 114th District Court. "That will take up the rest of the year for the District Attorney's Office," he said.

Russell said he would allow the trial schedule for Ms. Torres to remain on its current schedule unless he hears differently. Her trial is now set for September, according to the Smith County judicial website.
Defense Attorney Bobby Mims is representing Ms. Torres.

The next hearing on cases is set for May 4 in the 7th District Court.


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