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posted: 10/23/2013 6:41 PM

Woman testifies against aunt in Park City trailer home invasion

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  • Sandra Lopez

      Sandra Lopez

 
 

A Waukegan woman testified Wednesday that a 1999 Park City home invasion, in which two victims -- including one who was pregnant -- were threatened with a knife, was masterminded by her aunt.

Lizeth Dominguez, now 37, told jurors Sandra Lopez disguised herself using a wig and green contact lenses to fool the victims of the trailer home on the 3500 block of Howard Street, and pulled out a knife once inside.

Lopez, now 43, could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison if she is found guilty of home invasion. She also faces counts of armed violence, armed robbery and aggravated battery.

Dominguez testified she was involved in the home invasion with her aunt, and that she cut a deal with prosecutors to testify against Lopez. Lopez's defense attorney said during opening statements his client was not in the trailer home.

Dominguez pleaded guilty to home invasion a decade ago and was sentenced to six months in Lake County jail.

She said she was tricked into participating in the home invasion by Lopez. She testified Lopez came to her for help to clear her name after family members accused her of stealing jewelry a few years earlier. Dominguez testified that Lopez told her the owner of the trailer -- who once worked with Dominguez -- was behind the theft and they should search his trailer for the stolen goods.

The two posed as Park City water department employees to enter the mobile home, Dominguez testified, and Lopez drew a knife once inside. Lopez scuffled with a woman in the trailer and ordered Dominguez to kill a pregnant woman who was present, Dominguez testified.

"I was scared," she told jurors. "I was not going to hurt this woman."

The struggle ended when the woman gave up after being cut on the hand, Dominguez testified. The two victims were bound with duct tape and the trailer was ransacked.

Authorities said the victims freed themselves and called police.

Dominguez was identified in a photo lineup, authorities said. An arrest warrant was issued for Lopez, but she fled to her native El Salvador, authorities said. She returned in 2012, and was arrested in Bloomington, Ill., in March 2013. She is being held in Lake County jail on $1 million bail.

DNA expert Kelly Lawrence, of the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Lab, testified Wednesday she was unable to find a DNA strand from Lopez on the duct tape used to bind the victims. Lawrence also testified DNA was not recovered from Dominguez, who admitted being in the trailer.

Lopez's 22-year-old daughter testified she was living in a Gurnee apartment with her mother and siblings before leaving for El Salvador. Prosecutors previously had said Lopez lived in Waukegan.

This isn't the first time Lopez has been in a Lake County court facing serious charges.

She was acquitted in 1996 of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of her husband, Isaac, at their Highwood restaurant in 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.

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