Trinidad: Remorseful man still thinks about friend he killed 15 years ago

Stephen “Yankee” Lopez is escorted from the San Fernando High Court yesterday, after being sentenced to serve four years and three months for the 2003 murder of Anthony Stewart.

(Trinidad Guardian) Stephen “Yan­kee” Lopez, who con­fessed that he mur­dered his friend 15 years ago, yes­ter­day ex­pressed his re­morse and thanked a judge for bring­ing clo­sure in the mat­ter.

Lopez, who has been in prison since 2003, was sen­tenced by Jus­tice Althea Alex­is-Wind­sor in the San Fer­nan­do First Crim­i­nal Court af­ter he plead­ed guilty based on the mur­der felony prin­ci­ple.

“The 15 years, eight months and 16 days I spent … not a day did not pass when I did not think about my friend who I killed,” he said af­ter he was sen­tenced.

He said he was ashamed of his ac­tions.

Lopez killed An­tho­ny Stew­art in March 2003 at his wife’s busi­ness place, Nana’s Pub, at Pond Street, La Ro­maine.

The court heard that around 6 am on March 29, 2003, Stew­art’s wife ar­rived at the busi­ness place and found her hus­band ly­ing on the floor of the room.

When Cpl Roland Su­ru­jbal­ly ar­rived on the scene he no­ticed wounds to Stew­art’s face and head and saw a bent cut­lass, a bro­ken piece of brown bot­tle and a green beer bot­tle next to the body.

Lat­er that day, com­plainant Sgt Per­sad, along with oth­er of­fi­cers, went to Lopez’s Pond Street, La Ro­maine home where they found blood-stained cloth­ing. In one of the trousers, the po­lice found Stew­art’s blood­stained watch. The ac­cused was not at home. He was ar­rest­ed in Point Fortin the fol­low­ing month.

Lopez, who had healed abra­sions on his face, chest and arm, told po­lice he went to check a friend who rent­ed an apart­ment down­stairs the pub and fell asleep. He said when he awoke he went up­stairs and a man at­tacked him with a cut­lass. He claimed that they strug­gled and fell down. Dur­ing the strug­gle, he ad­mit­ted to hit­ting the man with two bot­tles.

Lopez told po­lice he took Stew­art’s watch to make it look like a rob­bery. The ten­ant, how­ev­er, told po­lice his apart­ment had been bro­ken in­to.

The judge start­ed the sen­tence at 32 years but de­duct­ed the time Lopez spent in cus­tody, one third for his guilty plea and three years for mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors.

The judge al­so ad­vised Lopez to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­grammes in prison to pre­pare for his even­tu­al re­lease. He was rep­re­sent­ed by at­tor­ney Rekha Ramjit.

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