Illegal immigrant sentenced for killing brothers at Fort Wayne motel: ‘It was human error’

Crime

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The man accused of stabbing two brothers to death inside a Fort Wayne motel room on Christmas Eve has been sentenced.

Pedro Sales Lopez, 30, was handed 60 total years for two counts of voluntary manslaughter related to the deaths of Daniel Mendez-Lopez, 32, and Alfonso Mendez-Lopez, 26, at the Coliseum Inn, near Lake Avenue, on around 7:15 p.m. Dec. 24, 2019.

Sales Lopez pleaded guilty to the charges last month.

Pedro Sales Lopez

Police and medics were called to the motel that Christmas Eve on a report of a battery. The Mendez-Lopez brothers were found suffering from apparent stab wounds.

Daniel Mendez-Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene; Alfonso Mendez-Lopez died at a local hospital, police said. The Allen County Coroner’s Office found that both died of stab wounds to the chest and their deaths were ruled homicides.

According to a probable cause affidavit released Thursday, a surveillance camera pointed at one of the rooms at the motel showed a struggle between the two victims and a third man – Sales Lopez. After the struggle, one of the victims came down to the motel’s office and asked for help then went back upstairs, where he was found face-down on the floor of a balcony, the affidavit said. The other victim was found in the room, dead.

The surveillance video then showed Pedro Lopez go through the pockets of Daniel Mendez-Lopez, who was unresponsive, according to the affidavit. He was then spotted tossing an item from the balcony to the ground below; a hotel clerk said he told Lopez to “stop fighting” and to give the room key back, which he did.

Police released an image of the suspect to the media shortly after the stabbings. According to the affidavit, police were told a person at the Rescue Mission matched the description of the suspect.

Pedro Lopez was taken into custody there, on Christmas Day.

During an interview with police, Pedro Lopez said he’d traveled up from Kentucky to work a job at a local restaurant and was staying with the victims, who were brothers. He said the brothers started fighting and one of them had taken his knife, according to the affidavit.

Pedro Lopez said he “did not touch” either Mendez-Lopez brother and left to avoid the fight, the affidavit said. He said he returned after an hour and a half to find both brothers had killed each other, he said, according to the affidavit.

In surveillance video, Pedro Lopez was seen with a large dark stain that appeared to be blood on his shirt as he was forced out of the room by the brothers. Pedro Lopez told police it was his own blood and he was himself stabbed while trying to break up the fight; police found no injuries on him, according to the affidavit.

In court Friday, Pedro Lopez apologized through a translator and said “it was a human error.” His attorney then advised him to stop talking.

A judge said Sales-Lopez was convicted of re-entry of a deported felon, and said Sales-Lopez had illegally entered the country three times. For that, the judge exercised his ability to sentence Sales-Lopez to the max that the court allows for the charges.

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