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Orange County

Woman Held, Accused of Aiding Husband's Suicide

October 20, 2002|Vivian LeTran | Times Staff Writer

A 59-year-old Westminster woman was arrested at her home on suspicion of helping her husband commit suicide, police said Saturday.

Judith Lopez was being held in lieu of $1-million bail at Orange County Jail on a single count of murder. Her arraignment is scheduled for Monday. She listed her occupation on jail documents as a claims representative.

Police investigators said they suspect Lopez gave her husband, Mariano, a lethal dose of his cancer medications early Friday to help end his ongoing pain.

Mariano Lopez, 61, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 1996 and had developed other ailments since, including pneumonia, spinal degeneration and heart and gallbladder complications, police said.

He also suffered severe pain from eight fused spinal discs that required him to wear a body brace. He could not eat solid food. His illnesses, however, were not deemed life-threatening, authorities said.

Judith Lopez called authorities to her home on the 13000 block of Illinois Street at 1:31 a.m. Friday, saying her husband had died. Authorities who arrived at the scene found evidence that she had helped administer a lethal dose of several prescribed medications, police said.

Neighbors knew of Mariano Lopez's declining health.

"I think this is a shame, what happened with Mrs. Lopez," said Richard Hayden, 79. "If I were that sick and bedridden, I'd appreciate a little help from a loved one."

Hayden lives about a block from the Lopezes' single-story house in a senior living community. The couple settled into the neighborhood 23 years ago, three years after they married.

Oregon is the only state where assisted suicide is legal.

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