Slain woman's family forgives her killer
By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer
The courtroom gallery was packed yesterday for the murder sentencing with the defendant's family on one side of the aisle and the victim's relatives on the other.
Todd Lopez faced a mandatory life prison term with parole for what the prosecution described as the brutal murder of his girlfriend, Memory Joy Medina, 30, at their Waipahu home in 2002 while Lopez was under the influence of crystal methamphetamine.
But rather than calling for retribution, Medina's cousin and brother told Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto that they forgive Lopez.
"God bless Todd and his family because I know my cousin's in a good place now," Alan Marcos, Medina's cousin, said as Lopez wept.
Orville Salibad, Medina's brother, said he already forgave Lopez and hopes the rest of Medina's family can do the same.
"I hope that he realizes what he has done and will live with it and some day be a better person," Salibad said.
City Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell told the judge that Lopez slit Medina's throat and stepped on her neck to quicken the death. When that didn't work, he tried to stab her, but the blade broke, the prosecutor said. Lopez then stabbed her chest with a screwdriver, Bell said.
Lopez expressed remorse, saying he's very sorry. Turning to Medina's family, he asked for forgiveness.
"I loved her very much even if it means life in prison," he said.
Sakamoto imposed the mandatory life term with parole.
Lopez, 37, hugged his family members and shook hands and embraced Marcos and Salibad and Medina's other relatives before he was led out of the courtroom.
Lopez went on trial on the murder charge in July, but during the proceedings pleaded guilty to the charge.
Deputy Public Defender Edward Aquino said Lopez wanted to plead guilty and take full responsibility from the beginning.
"He realized he did something very wrong to someone he dearly loved," Aquino said.
The Hawai'i Paroling Authority will later set the minimum term Lopez must serve before he is eligible for release on parole.
Bell said he will recommend a minimum term of 35 years.
Reach Ken Kobayashi at email@example.com.