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Article updated: 1/27/2014 2:20 PM

Hearing on new trial for Gurnee woman delayed

Sandra Lopez

Sandra Lopez

 
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A hearing was delayed Monday to determine if inappropriate conduct by two Lake County courthouse security guard trainees should result in a new trial for a Gurnee woman convicted of armed robbery of a mobile home.

Defense attorney Chris Lombardo said he is also debating whether to file additional requests for a new trial for Sandra Lopez, 43, after the two men testified they acted inappropriately during Lopez's trial between Oct. 20 and Oct. 24.

"I'm still deciding whether additional motions should be filed in this, based on the testimony at the previous hearing," Lombardo said. "They clearly were not allowed to speak to the jurors or the witnesses, but they did."

The former security guards trainees admitted under oath in January they gave their cellphone numbers to two people associated with Lopez's trial, where she was found guilty of home invasion and armed robbery.

The guards, who were being trained on courtroom procedures during that trial, are not identified by the Daily Herald because they have not been charged with a crime.

One trainee admitted he slipped his name and cellphone number to Lopez's daughter while on a brief break during jury selection before the start of the trial.

The other trainee admitted he briefly spoke with an alternate female juror during the four-day trial before slipping his cell number into her lunch while she was sequestered at the courthouse.

Both men said they were fired by the Lake County Sheriff's Office after details about their conduct surfaced.

Lopez faces 30 years in prison, authorities said, after she and a family member pushed inside a mobile home in the 3500 block of Howard Street in Park City in 1999 and threatened two women inside -- one of whom was pregnant.

The victims were bound with duct tape and the home ransacked during the home invasion, authorities said. The victims later freed themselves and called police.

Before being charged with the crime, Lopez fled to her native El Salvador, authorities said. She returned to the area and was arrested following a traffic stop in Bloomington, Ill., in 2012, authorities said.

The hearing was continued to Feb. 5 in front of Judge John Phillips.

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