Trial begins for woman charged in 1999 home invasion
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A Waukegan woman who was once acquitted of her husband's murder was back in court Tuesday, this time charged with stealing jewelry during a 1999 armed robbery at a Park City trailer home.
The trial against Sandra Lopez, 43, kicked off with defense attorney Chris Lombardo claiming during opening statements that DNA evidence will prove she was not at the trailer home.
Lombardo also said the state's key witness — Lizeth Dominguez — cut a deal with prosecutors to testify against Lopez.
"You will hear it was not Sandra's DNA found on the duct tape in the trailer that day," Lombardo told jurors. "It was not Sandra's DNA, it was not Liseth's DNA, it was someone else."
Lopez could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison if she is found guilty on the most serious count of home invasion. She also faces counts of armed violence, armed robbery and aggravated battery.
Assistant state's attorney Jim Newman said told jurors that Lopez and Dominguez entered the trailer in the 3500 block of Howard Street by posing as Park City water inspectors and claimed they had to check for water leaks.
After pushing their way inside, the women pulled out knives and threatened the victims — one of whom was pregnant, Newman said. After binding the victims with duct tape, they stole jewelry and money before escaping, he said.
The victims freed themselves and called police, Newman said. Investigators used a photo lineup to identify Dominguez and Lopez as suspects, Newman said.
Following her arrest, Dominguez cut a deal with prosecutors and told authorities Lopez was the other woman involved, Newman said. Dominguez later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in Lake County jail for her role in the crime.
Lopez fled to her native El Salvador after an arrest warrant was issued, Newman said. It's unknown when she returned to the United States, but she was arrested in Bloomington, IL in March 2013.
She has been held in Lake County jail on $1 million bail since her arrest.
"After all of the evidence is shown ... we are going to ask you, based on that evidence, to find her guilty on all of the counts of home invasion and all of the counts of armed robbery," Newman said.
This isn't the first time Lopez has been in a Lake County court facing serious charges.
She was acquitted in March 1996 of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of her husband, Isaac, at their Highwood restaurant in September 1995.
According to her testimony at that trial, Lopez and her husband argued after she admitted to having an affair, and she was forced to defend herself from his attacks.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Lopez changed her story about her husband's death three times before she stopped cooperating with police.
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