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Franklin Lopez

Santa Maria

Bakersfield man identified as victim in Thursday night's fatal shooting

Police have identified the homicide victim who was found with multiple gunshot wounds late Thursday night in northwest Santa Maria.

The male decedent has been identified as 21-year-old Vicente De Jesus Medina Guerrero, of Bakersfield. His family has been notified. 

No arrests have been made, and Santa Maria Police officials are seeking information from anyone with knowledge of the shooting. 

Responding to the area of Blosser Road and West Bunny Avenue at approximately 10:26 p.m., Santa Maria Police and Fire crews discovered Guerrero, who had multiple gunshot wounds. Efforts to stabilize Guerrero were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

With 24 days left in 2018, Thursday's shooting death marks the sixth homicide of the year in the city.

Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to call the department's Detective Bureau at 805-928-3781, ext. 2278. The tip line also can be reached by dialing 805-928-3781, ext. 2677.

Santa Maria

Nipomo man formerly charged with murder pleads guilty to attempting escape from custody

A Nipomo man who was initially charged in connection to a Sept. 1 homicide in Santa Maria pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting escape from custody. He will be sentenced to two years probation in January. 

Franklin Edgar Lopez was originally charged with murder for allegedly aiding and abetting his brother, Rafael Lopez, in the death of Cruz Chavez.

According to preliminary hearing evidence, Chavez was fatally shot and stabbed following a workplace dispute at Main Street Produce with Rafael. The prosecution alleged that Rafael Lopez tailed Chavez after their dispute to Bradley and Sunrise before cornering him just before 1 a.m.

Rafael Lopez's whereabouts remain unknown to date, although authorities believe he fled the country to join a Mexican drug cartel.

Authorities also believe Rafael Lopez is linked to two separate homicides, both of which occurred in Santa Maria -- one in December 2015 and one in July 2016. 

After Franklin Lopez’s preliminary hearing concluded in September, the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold him on a murder charge based on the prosecution's evidence, which only showed that Franklin Lopez tried to move away from his Nipomo home the day after Chavez's death and sold gun parts to neighbors. As a result, he was held to answer to an accessory after the fact charge. 

In October, the prosecution elected not to move forward with either the murder or accessory charge for Franklin Lopez. Instead, they charged him with the following new felony counts: attempted escape from custody using force/violence, and resisting an executive officer with violence. The events allegedly occurred Sept. 9, four days after he was placed in custody.

As part of the negotiation, the other felony charges will be dropped. 

Franklin Lopez already has served 30 days in County Jail and has been on a GPS monitoring system since his release. He will be sentenced on the new charges Jan. 2, and his GPS monitor will be removed.

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-- Staff reports