3 Life Terms, 145 Years for Man Guilty in Grisly Attacks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Anaheim man who used his car as a rolling torture chamber was sentenced to three life terms plus 145 years in prison for sexual attacks on four women.

His voice quavering, 31-year-old David Lopez apologized for the attacks and pleaded for a chance to be a free man some day.

"I know what I did was horrible. . . . I have a little girl and I hope she never happens to run into somebody like me," Lopez said at his sentencing in Orange County Superior Court.

Lopez, a former car-stereo installer, said he should have sought counseling a long time ago. "I've come to a point where I know my life is messed up," he said.

Judge Jean H. Rheinheimer imposed the maximum sentence.

"I take no pleasure in imposing a sentence of this nature," Rheinheimer said. "The crimes here are as bad as any I have ever seen in my years on the bench."

The judge said she would recommend that Lopez receive psychological treatment in prison.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jo Marie Escobar said it would be about 93 years before Lopez becomes eligible for parole.

"It's a classic case of a little bit too late to apologize," Escobar said after the sentencing. "The crimes were so heinous."

Lopez was convicted on 32 charges, including attempted murder and torture, that stemmed from a string of assaults over an eight-month period beginning in mid-1992. Authorities said Lopez found his victims in areas known for prostitution, then raped and tortured them in his station wagon. He abandoned the women, tied up or wrapped in tape, by the roadside in unpopulated areas of the county.

A 17-year-old runaway was found near death, nude and taped nearly head to toe, in a rain-filled drainage ditch on Santa Ana Canyon Road in Anaheim in 1993. The girl's nostrils were left uncovered and her head was above water. She survived. Victims testified that Lopez sodomized them with metal objects, burned them with cigarettes or lighters and tortured them using electrical shocks.

Jurors were shown an assortment of bondage gear, wires and metal tools that Lopez was believed to have used. He left a mountain of evidence in his home and car, including victims' clothing and jewelry, plus DNA evidence and mail he addressed to a victim but never sent.

In a county probation report prepared for sentencing, Lopez said his problems began at age 15. He said the parents of his then-girlfriend engaged in sex and bondage with him and the girl and videotaped it.

During the trial, defense attorney William Morrissey called his client a "sick" fetishist who preyed on prostitutes but never meant to kill anyone.

Morrissey said the sentencing means "basically, Mr. Lopez is going away for the rest of his natural life."

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