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updated: 2/18/2014 10:36 PM

Gurnee woman gets 19 years for 1999 home invasion

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  • Sandra Lopez

      Sandra Lopez

 
 

A Gurnee woman was sentenced Tuesday to 19 years in prison for breaking into a Park City trailer home and robbing two women at knife point in 1999.

Sandra Lopez, 43, will have to serve at least 85 percent of her sentence before being eligible for parole, said Cynthia Trujillo-Vargas, spokeswoman with the Lake County state's attorney's office.

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After her parole, Lopez will be on supervised release for three years, Trujillo-Vargas said.

Lopez will receive credit for the 348 days she has spent in Lake County jail since her 2012 arrest in Bloomington, Ill.

"She delayed her remand by 15 years, but justice was done today with a 19-year sentence," Assistant State's Attorney Jim Newman said after the hearing.

Lopez was found guilty on three counts of home invasion and two counts of armed robbery after her three-day trial in October.

Prosecutors proved Lopez and a family member conned their way inside the trailer home on the 3500 block of Howard Street in 1999 by posing as city employees. Once inside, Lopez displayed a knife, prosecutors said, and got into a fight with one of the two female victims. During the skirmish, Lopez told the family member to kill the second woman, who was pregnant.

The family member refused, prosecutors said, but the scuffle ended after Lopez cut the first victim's hand during the fight.

The two victims were bound with duct tape and the trailer was ransacked, prosecutors said. After the attackers left, the victims freed themselves and called police.

After an investigation, the family member was linked to the crime and police issued an arrest warrant for Lopez. But Lopez fled to her native El Salvador, where she remained until returning to the United States and being arrested in 2012.

The family member agreed to a plea deal in 2000 that put her behind bars for six months but promised to testify against Lopez at the trial.

Judge John Phillips started Tuesday's sentencing hearing by denying a motion for a new trial by defense attorney Chris Lombardo.

Lombardo argued that inappropriate behavior took place during Lopez's trial involving two jail guards who communicated with witnesses and jurors. The guards were later fired by the Lake County sheriff's office for their behavior.

Lombardo did not comment after the sentencing hearing.

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 in the 1995 stabbing death of her husband, Isaac, at their Highwood restaurant. She was acquitted after Lopez testified she acted in self-defense.

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