Lawyer Concedes Client Assaulted Five Women


The attorney for accused serial rapist David Lopez conceded Wednesday that his client tied up and assaulted five women to sate an unnatural sexual thirst but denied Lopez tried to kill anyone.

Defense lawyer William G. Morrissey called his client “sick” and “perverted” even as he implored jurors not to be carried away by the shock of graphic prosecution evidence detailing a six-month string of sex attacks.

“I’m asking you not to rush to judgment and just close the book on David Lopez . . . and say, ‘He’s a pervert--let’s get him out of here,’ ” Morrissey said during the trial’s closing arguments in Orange County Superior Court.


Lopez, 30, of Anaheim faces 32 felony charges, including allegations of torture and attempted murder involving a teen-age hitchhiker who alleged that Lopez abused her for hours before dumping her--taped nearly head to toe--in a water-filled ditch in Anaheim in 1993. The girl, then 17, survived after a public-works crew found her barely alive while clearing a ditch brimming with muddy rainwater.

Morrissey said Lopez never intended to kill the girl, a runaway from New Mexico. The attorney also denied allegations that Lopez tortured the girl and another woman, saying the injuries were not serious enough to warrant a torture conviction.

But Morrissey conceded most of the lesser charges against his client, who was arrested in 1993 after an Orange County sheriff’s deputy saw a flyer and remembered stopping Lopez earlier.

Authorities later found items belonging to the victims in Lopez’s car and the Anaheim home he shared with his mother, and used DNA to link Lopez to the crimes, the prosecutor said.

Morrissey, who had offered no opening statement and called no witnesses, saved his defense for the end of the trial. His remarks Wednesday were the first jurors heard in Lopez’s defense.

The trial was suspended for seven weeks after Lopez abruptly entered an insanity defense at the end of the prosecution’s case in July. But when the trial resumed this week, he suddenly withdrew that plea.


Deputy Dist. Atty. Jo Marie Escobar sought to portray Lopez as a sadist who preyed upon prostitutes he figured would not go to the police for help.

During closing arguments, Escobar held up metal nipple clamps, lengths of wire and an awl-like instrument that she said Lopez used in turning his station wagon into a “torture vehicle” in 1992 and early 1993.

“Is this about sex?” Escobar asked. “No, this is about massive sadism. This is about a person who gets off on hurting other people.”

Escobar said the attacks began on June 29, 1992. Lopez cruised for victims in areas known for prostitution, she said. Three of the victims were prostitutes. Once Lopez had the women in his car, he tied them up and gagged them, then assaulted them at knifepoint or while holding a gun, the prosecutor said.

Some of the victims were sodomized with metal objects, burned with cigarettes or lighters and tortured with electrical shocks, Escobar said. Lopez allegedly told the victims he hated his mother and other women.

All the victims were left bound on the roadside, mostly in remote areas such as Santa Ana Canyon and Silverado Canyon, the prosecutor said.


The 17-year-old girl was close to death when she was found by Anaheim workers in a ditch off Santa Ana Canyon Road. She had been left nude, wrapped in plastic tape, with only her head above water, Escobar said. Only her nostrils and midriff were not taped.

Morrissey argued that Lopez did not intend to kill her because he left her nostrils uncovered and able to sit up. The defense lawyer said Lopez was used to abandoning women in that spot and did not account for the danger posed by the rain.

Lopez was initially charged with attacking seven women. But two of the women could not be located for the trial and some charges were dropped, Escobar said.

Lopez could face up to three life terms and nearly 200 years in state prison if convicted of all the charges against him.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating today.