Jury finds Gurnee woman guilty of Park City home invasion, armed robbery
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A Gurnee woman was found guilty Thursday of breaking into a Park City trailer home and robbing two women inside at knife point.
A Lake County jury ruled Sandra Lopez, 43, was guilty on three counts of home invasion and two counts of armed robbery after conning her way inside the home in 1999 by posing as a city employee.
It took the jury about two hours to make its decision.
Tears streamed down Lopez's face after defense attorney Christopher Lombardo asked to have the jury polled individually.
She faces up to 30 years in prison. Lake County Judge John Phillips scheduled Nov. 26 for her sentencing date.
"We are just grateful to be a part of bringing justice to the victims of this crime," said Assistant State's Attorney Jim Newman after the verdict. "Everyone worked hard to get justice for the family."
Members of Lopez's family in attendance also broke down in tears after the verdict was read. They refused to comment after the hearing.
During the three-day trial this week, prosecutors proved Lopez donned a wig and colored contact lenses, then worked with niece Lizeth Dominguez, 37, to push their way inside the mobile home in the 3500 block of Howard Street.
Once inside, prosecutors said, Lopez displayed a knife and threatened the two women. When Lopez got into a physical altercation with one victim, she told Dominguez to kill the second woman, who was pregnant.
Dominguez refused, and prosecutors said the scuffle ended after Lopez cut the victim's hand.
The two victims were bound with duct tape and the trailer was ransacked, authorities said. After the attackers left, the victims freed themselves and called police.
Following a brief investigation, Dominguez was linked to the crime and police issued an arrest warrant for Lopez. However, she fled to her native El Salvador where she remained until returning to the United States in 2012. She was arrested earlier this year following a traffic stop in Bloomington, Ill, officials said.
Prosecutors relied heavily on testimony from the victims and Dominguez, who had pleaded guilty to the crime and served 6 months in jail after striking a deal with prosecutors.
"(Lopez is) guilty and she knows it, and for 14 years, she has known it. Finally hold Sandra Lopez accountable for what she did," Assistant State's Attorney Jason Humke said during closing arguments Thursday.
However, Lombardo said throughout the trial that no DNA evidence was collected at the trailer linking Lopez to the crime, and that Dominguez was not a reliable witness due to her deal with prosecutors.
This is the second time Lopez has been in a Lake County court facing serious charges.
She was charged in 1996 with first-degree murder for the 1995 stabbing death of her husband, Isaac, at their Highwood restaurant. But, she was acquitted after Lopez testified that she acted in self-defense.
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