Open Letter to StreetTalk Magazine re: Joe Lopez
There is no doubt Joe López is innocent and the ‘Justice for Joe López’ organization has the proof.
Joe did not have to go to prison because he was initially offered four months in jail followed by probation. The result is that he fired his lawyers for even fathoming the thought of such a deal. Instead, López adamantly professed his innocence.
“Imagine that. If I had indeed done that and was offered only four months, I would have said damn, let me kiss your feet and hugged them outside, right? But I didn’t do anything. So why should I admit to a crime I didn’t commit in exchange for a light sentence?
“Ni lo mande Dios (God forbid),”López said during a prison interview as he shook his head in disbelief.”
Joe refused the plea bargain because that would be admitting guilt and he repeatedly stuck to his guns in regard to his innocence.
On Tuesday, October 31, 2006, Joe was sentenced to 32.5 years in prison. This was a pretty stiff sentence when one considers that the punishment for third degree murder is thirty years.
“It was a hanging trial and we (the family) are now all in prison,” his oldest brother, Raúl López Jr., stated.
To help out Joe, Tejano living legend Gilbert Rodríguez is asking performers to donate their talent for three fund-raising concerts – one in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas — to cover the legal costs of attorneys Roger Z. Guevara and Art Vega in San Antonio plus Philip T. Cowen in Brownsville to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus.
“Now, just as O.J. Simpson, I have several attorneys . . . and the support of Jaimé P. Martánez behind me,” Joe said in his most recent letter to Gilbert Rodríguez.
To date, every single Appeal has been denied and the only thing left is the Writ of Habeas Corpus, but attorneys don’t work for free. According to Lorenzo and Judy López, the deadline to file is March 30. Therefore, he needs all the help he can get. Otherwise Joe, now 60, will not have the freedom we all take for granted until he is 88.
Any band and vocalist wishing to participate may contact Gilbert Rodríguez at (210) 673-2990.
To acquiant Street Talk’s readers with what really transpired, I was allowed to share the following few tidbits of information – including copies of actual medical records.
First of all, let me introduce the main character being the alleged then 13-year-old rape victim. Her name is Krystal Benita López, daughter of Joe’s brother and his then wife Blanca Estela Chávez. Therefore Krystal is Joe’s niece.
The courtroom figures were District Attorney Armando Roberto Alexandre Reyes Villalobos, Judge Leonel Alejandro, who presided over the 357th state District Court.
Joe’s defense attorneys were Micheal (pronounced Michael) Pete Trejo and Michael Lee Young.”
Chapter One of the book I was commissioned to write starts out as follows:
As will be outlined and practically proven, Joe was wrongfully accused, was charged on four counts based on a downright, outright lie and had to stand trial due to a fabricated story of an alleged rape. And it didn’t help when a few people perjured themselves on the witness stand.
Moreover, lack of time for new defense attorneys to properly prepare for his case and ineffective counsel lead to his wrongful conviction.
The facts contained between these two covers will prove that Joe was innocent because he was not guilty of the charges brought upon him.
The facts that would have saved Joe from being convicted was all the alleged victim’s medical records, correctional center’s papers and other documents deemed inadmissible in court because the alleged victim was a minor at the time of the trial.
Furthermore, Joe’s defense attorneys advised him not to take the witness stand and the reason for this gross error will unfold within these pages. In the process, this book will also give some insight to the corrupt so-called justice system we live in.
It is his family’s prayer that this book will exonerate Joe as you the reader will be made privy to all the facts, what really happened, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
PIECING THE PUZZLE TOGETHER
A written reenactment of many events outlined in chronological order and in story form is based on numerous interviews and the sworn testimony of this case’s witnesses when they were asked to take the stand. So what transpired has been a careful, timely process of piecing together all the witnesses’ statements and answers to both the State and Defense according to the reporter’s record transcript.
It was like putting together a difficult jigsaw puzzle. This process helped cut down pages of repetitious, redundant questions and answers. Otherwise, the reader would have 775 pages of tiresome, boring transcript which would put one to sleep.
From this point on and through coverage of the trial, the entire scenario will be explicitly detailed, word per word and will adhere to the time-line and time-frames stated by the many witnesses that testified.
For utmost accuracy, all quotes are verbatim as they appear in six volumes of court transcripts. While there was the temptation to edit and make many corrections due to fragmented sentences, wrong word usage, grammatical errors and other mistakes, they were left intact, ‘as were transcribed’ by court reporter, Cynthia L. Garza, CSR, RMR.
Therefore, some of the dialogue may not make sense due to the improper use of the English language by a few witnesses.
What really transpired will definitely open up more questions than those it will answer, and this questions and their answers is what could have proved Joe’s innocence and set him free.
This is not a book about Mazz, or the musical story of Mazz, but about an innocent man – and about any Joe that is behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
Most of the information is extremely touchy and cannot be divulged until Joe is granted a re-trial so I will have to tip toe through some important points. But it is a fact she lost her hymen at 12 and by 14 was a sexually active teenager.
In 2004, Joe was performing with excruciating pain due to a hip injury and his time on stage was minimal. After this, Joe was unable to take one single step without a walker, and he was prescribed even stronger medication. After falling off the stage in Dallas, he spent the next few months more drugged up than a junkie.
By April 2004, Joe was still unable to walk without the aid of a cane and he was under so much pain . . . his wife Tina made sure he was not without a bottle of Chivas Regal for his pain and a bottle of pills to put him to sleep in what became his new lifestyle. His brother Lorenzo also said that Joe had to sleep on a recliner because he was unable to climb on top of the bed without physical help.
There were days that Joe couldn’t walk, much less even move; and on weekends, he was on cocaine and heavy medication to take the pain away in order to perform. Once onstage, he grabbed the microphone stand and held on to it for support without making his condition obviously to the audience.
As a man, the pain medication killed his urge, his longing, his sexual appetite, his passion, lust or whatever one wants to call it. Therefore he was unable to have an intimate relationship with his wife because the hunger and yearning was not there. He couldn’t climb up on his bed on his own and there was no feeling in his groin, except that of numbness.
But when it came time to testify on Joe’s behalf, his attorney made her change her tune.
During a one-on-one interview with the Grammy Award winner at the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, Texas on April 28, 2009, Joe said, “You know what my attorney told my wife to do, to state that she had given me sex in the bathroom, in the bed, in the living room. And I told Tina, ‘why are you lying like that?’
That statement drove in the last nail on Joe’s coffin because it made him come across as being capable of having sex.
During the trial, there were numerous times Krystal’s testimony, as well as that of others could easily constitute reasonable doubt, but they were never questioned. In fact Krystal and her mother’s statements raised more questions, but no one bothered to clarify any conflicting and contradicting statements. Not one witness was pressed for more information to fill in the missing blanks.
Therefore the jury was left to decide in whom to believe – an adult, a responsible mother and wife, or a teenager with a history of being a troubled child?
For example in just one sentence, Krystal was “unsure” about three different things as she answered, “I’m not sure,” “I think” and “I don’t remember.”
Some testimonies were 180 degrees opposite of each other. And in some case, there were three different versions of what happened. Yet there was no further search for the truth. How could any attorney overlook these inconsistencies?
FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2004
According to the transcript, after the alleged rape, Joe went to sleep and Krystal was not restrained. She was completely free to run out the door and in less than a minute reach the Rancho Viejo Police Department to report the alleged rape.
Furthermore, the police department was then at 3461 Carmen Avenue, cater-corner, across the street and less than a two minute walk from Joe and Tina’s condo.
As Tina testified on the third day of the trial when asked about the location of the police station in relation to the condo, she stated, “It’s like catty-corner, right there … It’s just across the street. Like … maybe a hundred (feet), I’m not sure.”
When Young asked how long it would take one to walk from the condo to the police station, Tina stated, “A minute, two minutes, not even.”
The question an average person would ask is, “Why would a rape victim ‘walk,” wouldn’t one assume they would run? And why didn’t Krystal immediately dart out the door and run across the street to the police station?
Instead of running out for help, she got a Coke from the refrigerator and sat back down in the living room. Then she picked up the telephone and called her boyfriend.
Moving along the court trial, when Villalobos asked Krystal if she had showered after the alleged rape with “wouldn’t you want to be clean?” she stated, “Yeah, but I didn’t take a shower.”
“You weren’t thinking to yourself this whole time, ‘gosh, I can’t wait to get this off of me. I can’t wait to clean up. You never said anything about feeling like that, did you?
Looking the district attorney straight in the eye, she said, “no.”
To top it off, that same night, Joe, Tina and Krystal went out to eat at his sister Alma Trevino’s house. And later that same evening Krystal went fishing with her father, Joe and Omar Rodríguez, a family friend who says she seemed to be having a good time.
Based on what he has seen while working in his current position at a juvenile detention center, during a one-to-one interview, Omar, who knows most of the signs and body language exhibited by someone who has been raped, said, “She wasn’t distance, withdrawn or appeared to want to seclude herself.”
CONTINUATION OF LETTER
I could go on and one, but it would be hard to condense a 36 chapter book. However, I will leave your readers with some food for thought. Her Rape Kit test turned up ‘negative.” We initially had the permission of Christina Hernández, founder of Justice for Joe López, to publish two pages from Krystal’s medical records from the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department Medical Department.
In the “Drug History” section, readers would have seen black and white proof that Krystal smoked, drank hard liquor and test positive for marijuana, PCP, ecstasy and downers plus had a few serious ailments.
The second page revealed she tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease and if Joe had slept with her, he would have contracted Chiamydia trachoactis.
To have published those medical records would have violated the patient/doctor confidentiality, therefore they were pulled at the last minute.
All evidence against Krystal was inadmissible in court because she was a minor. Instead the DA painted a virginal picture of Krystal. In addition, police officers that had stopped Joe for suspicion of marijuana use in the previous decade were brought in to testify in a case that had nothing to do with drugs. The purpose of course was to damage his character.
Another giant flaw is that the court allowed Leticia Cisneros García, a woman whom Joe’s brother Lorenzo had dated twenty years prior, not only to serve, but was also named ‘jury foreman.” Furthermore, after she got married, her husband Robert Sierra and Joe had a falling out in 2002.
Many other rules were broken and they are all detailed in the book. In summary, all the cards were stacked up against Joe. To know the truth and the injustice that has been done to Joe would turn anyone’s stomach.
There were numerous instances of more than ‘reasonable doubt and times when Joe’s attorney objected or asked for a mistrial. And each time the judge sustained and overruled all his objections and his motions were each time denied.
Again, I remind the reader that attorneys have until the end of this month to file a Habeas Corpus. Not one of us is a saint. There is no exception so let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Call Gilbert Rodríguez and find out how you can help him raise the money to pay Roger Guevara file the Habeas Corpus.
Very respectfully, Ramón Hernández