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Ventura County News Roundup

SANTA PAULA : Suspect's Weapon Not Used in Slaying

November 21, 1992|PATRICK McCARTNEY

Ballistics tests on a gun confiscated from a Santa Paula man who is a suspect in a gang-related Halloween night slaying have shown that the weapon was not used to commit the crime, authorities said.

But results from the test were not enough to eliminate John Julian Lopez, 19, from suspicion in the shooting of 18-year-old Joey Lara of Santa Paula, said Santa Paula Police Cmdr. Mark Hanson. "The tests show that that particular gun was not used in the homicide," Hanson said Wednesday. "But it certainly does not clear anybody of suspicion."

Lopez was arrested Nov. 14 while wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying a loaded .38-caliber revolver. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. But lack of evidence prevented the Ventura County district attorney's office from filing homicide charges, authorities said.

Santa Paula police at first said the homicide was probably in retaliation for the Sept. 23 drive-by slaying of 20-year-old Richard Brian Gutierrez of Santa Paula. Gutierrez was a member of the Bad Boys gang, which has been feuding for six months with Lara's gang, the Crazy Boyz, investigators said.

But they said this week that the shooting was no longer believed to be a retaliatory act.

Nevertheless, Hanson said homicide charges could still be filed against Lopez if new evidence surfaces to implicate him in the Lara slaying. "We had a lot of gang members there that night, all 'on duty' and all packing guns because of who they are and what they are," Hanson said. "Half of the guys pulled their guns and fired shots," he said.

On Wednesday, Lopez was sentenced to 60 days in Ventura County Jail for the misdemeanor concealed-weapon charge after pleading guilty the day before, a court official said. He also received three years probation and was ordered not to associate with gang members.

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