Testimony set to begin in dismemberment murder trial

Daniel Lopez on trial for second time, first trial ended in mistrial

SAN ANTONIO – Jury selection began Thursday in the trial of a 29-year-old man charged in the gruesome slaying of a man whose body parts were found in a barbecue grill.

Daniel Lopez is on trial for a second time for the murder of 35-year-old Jose Luis Manchaca, who prosecutors said was killed as a result of a drug deal that didn't go as planned.

Lopez, his girlfriend, Candie Dominguez, and another man, Gabriel Moreno, beat Manchaca to death Sept. 30, 2014, with a baseball bat and then dismembered his body and burned his body parts on a backyard barbecue grill, prosecutors said.

Lopez's first trial ended in a mistrial.

"Our position has not changed, that he didn't do it," J. Charles Bunk, Lopez's attorney, said. 

Bunk described the facts of the case as "gruesome," which he said may pose a problem in court.

"It'll be a challenge to try the case," he said. "One of the concerns I have is anytime somebody sees pictures like that, or hears testimony on that type, it's very difficult to look at my client as just a guy trying to get a fair shake." 

Bunk is also concerned that his client's first trial and Moreno's trial ended in mistrials, which means more than the usual amount of paperwork to review prior to the beginning of the trial.

"When you have trials, you have to get transcripts from those trials. That takes a while, and then you need time to review those transcripts, which adds time to the process," he said.

Dominguez has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against Lopez as part of a plea agreement. Moreno remains jailed awaiting trial.

If Lopez is found guilty of murder, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Testimony is expected to begin Friday in Judge Ron Rangel's 379th District Court.

About the Author: