Utah Supreme Court reverses murder ruling, ordering a new trial in 2013 death

| Courtesy Salt Lake County Komasquin Lopez was charged Thursday with murder for shooting his wife, Shannon Lopez, Dec. 27.

A Midvale man will get another shot at proving his innocence.

On Friday, the Utah Supreme Court issued a ruling reversing the 2015 guilty verdict that convicted Komasquin Lopez of murdering his wife while they drove in his truck Dec. 27, 2013.

Throughout proceedings, Lopez claimed he did not shoot his wife. He claims while driving he heard the sound of glass breaking and looked over to see Shannon Lopez slumped over, the result of her shooting herself in the left ear.

A medical examiner and blood-splatter expert could not determine who shot Shannon Lopez.

The high court ruled 3rd District Judge Paul Parker improperly allowed the state to call an expert witness who testified as to how likely Shannon Lopez was to kill herself. It also ruled that the district judge erred when it allowed the prosecution to present the jury with information claiming Komasquin Lopez had twice pointed a gun at a family member or loved one.

Lopez’s attorney, Nick Falcone, said he was excited when he learned of the Supreme Court’s opinion, adding that he would push to get the case back in front of a judge as quickly as possible.

“[Lopez] maintains his innocence,” Falcone said. “He feels he was wrongly convicted, and it appears that the court feels the same way.”

Prosecutor T. Langdon Fisher did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday evening.

On Dec. 27, Shannon Lopez picked Komasquin Lopez up from work. She had ingested a level of methamphetamine that the medical examiner described as “toxic.” Her drug use started an argument.

Komasquin Lopez testified that he presented her with the idea of using meth to lose weight, and they decided they would use the drug only on the weekends.

Komasquin Lopez also testified that he told his wife that she was a "meth whore and I was going to leave her."

During the argument, Shannon Lopez was shot and died. When police responded, they found a gun and holster on the floor of the driver’s side of the cab. Komasquin Lopez was driving the truck.

He was later arrested and charged with murder. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.

During the trial, the state called Craig Bryan, a clinical psychologist, who used the Fluid Vulnerability Theory of Suicide to determine how likely it was that Shannon Lopez would kill herself.

Komasquin Lopez challenged this, and the high court agreed that there was improper foundation to show Bryan’s testimony was reliable. It also stated that the testimony was prejudicial.

Leading up to the trail, the state tried to admit into evidence six instances in which Komasquin Lopez had pointed a gun at a member of his family, according to the court ruling. While four were excluded, two such instances were presented to the jury.

Komasquin Lopez challenged this, saying it was overly prejudicial and improperly admitted. The court agreed, saying Parker abused his discretion when admitting it into trial.

Due to the errors, the court ruled the verdict be reversed and the case retried.

— Tribune reporter Paighten Harkins contributed to this story.