In the days after Shannon Lopez was shot and killed by her husband, her then-13-year-old son wept every night.
Lourdes Nance said Friday at the sentencing hearing for Komasquin Lopez that her grandson Christopher Nance is disabled and can't speak or understand much going on around him. But for a long time after his mother died on Dec. 27, 2013, he laid in bed and cried and cried.
It wasn't until Lourdes Nance said she showed the boy a photo of his mother — he finally smiled.
He lit up, Lourdes Nance said in tears Friday, the same way he did just weeks ago when he visited Shannon Lopez's grave. The small child will take off his shoes when he feels comfortable in a space, the grandmother said, and on this Thanksgiving visit, he did just that.
"The first thing Christopher did was take off his shoes and get on top of her grave," the grandmother said. "... He knew that his mother was there."
Lourdes Nance, who is Shannon Lopez's ex-mother-in-law and now caretaker of the woman's children, was one of several of the victim's family members who spoke of the hole in their lives left after Shannon Lopez was shot in the head while her husband drove their truck in Salt Lake City.
But during Friday's sentencing hearing, Komasquin Lopez insisted that he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger that day.
"I want to say this, and I'll say this until the day I die," the defendant said. "I did not shoot my wife. I did not murder my wife."
Komasquin Lopez said he made a bad choice introducing drugs to his wife as a way to lose weight, but he told 3rd District Judge Paul Parker that he will never admit that he killed her.
But Parker said his hands were tied by the jury's guilty verdict when he handed down a 16-year-to-life prison sentence. The judge added that he believed the jury "made the decision they need to make."
"They called what they saw, and that's the reason you are here," the judge said. "Frankly, to hold a firearm to someone's head with your finger on the trigger is a terrible act, let alone what happened after."
During the September trial, Komasquin Lopez cried as he told jurors that he never held a gun to Shannon Lopez's ear and claimed that she shot herself.
"To this day, I think it's an accident," he said. "... She didn't kill herself."
Komasquin Lopez said that his wife had come to pick him up from work that day, and he immediately was upset with her because she was high on methamphetamine. He said they had agreed to use the drugs only on weekends, and that Shannon Lopez initially began using it just to lose weight.
He was driving their truck home, he said, and as he approached a left-turn lane at the intersection of 7800 South State, he testified that he told his wife that she was a "meth whore and I was going to leave her."
"I hit the gas and started turning left," he testified. "Then I hear a loud noise, BAM. I'm thinking she broke the window. I look to the right, I started screaming, 'Shannon! Shannon!' ... There was blood everywhere."
The husband said he never saw a gun and didn't see Shannon Lopez put the gun to her head.
But prosecutors argued at trial that it didn't make sense for Shannon Lopez to kill herself when she was happy and had two children who needed her.
Just after the gun was fired inside Lopez's pickup, his vehicle crashed into another.
As police began investigating the accident and Shannon Lopez's death, they were suspicious of her husband and his inconsistent stories of what happened in the cab of the truck. He was charged with murder several weeks after her death.