Man pleads guilty for killing girl at Jordan Lake
A 21-year-old Apex man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for stabbing a 15-year-old girl to death at Jordan Lake in August 2011.
Gabriel “Ale” Alejandro Maricio Lopez appeared in Chatham County Criminal Superior Court Tuesday morning for the plea hearing and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Assistant District Attorney Kayley Taber told Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour that Lopez killed Maria “Patty” Patricia Perez-Godinez because he believed he had gotten her pregnant, was ashamed at what he had done and did not want her to have the baby.
Lopez’s family and the victim’s family were close friends and went to the same church, and Perez-Godinez was best friends with Lopez’s younger sister. The girls sometimes spent the night at each others’ homes, Taber said.
During one of those sleepovers, Lopez had sex with Perez-Godinez during the early morning hours when no one was awake, Taber said.
Because Perez-Godinez was 15 and Lopez was 20 at the time, if the teen had reported it to law enforcement authorities, Lopez could have been prosecuted for statutory rape, Taber said.
The girl did not report it to police but later feared she might be pregnant. She told her cousin but not her parents.
When Lopez found out about the possible pregnancy, according to text messages Perez-Godinez sent to a friend, Lopez tried to get Perez-Godinez to take some sort of pill.
Investigators believe that on Aug. 4, 2011, Lopez went to the home of Perez-Godinez in Fuquay-Varina and took her without her parents’ consent to the home of a friend, Alejandro Prada Sanchez, Taber said.
The two men discussed the problem and they came up with the idea of killing Perez-Godinez, Taber said.
They gathered the things they needed, including a filet knife and a duffle bag, and drove her to the west side of the Bell’s Church access area on Jordan Lake, Taber said.
At the lake, Lopez confronted Perez-Godinez about being pregnant and her refusal to take the pill, Taber said.
Investigators believe that while Sanchez held her down, Lopez stabbed her repeatedly. When the medical examiner conducted an autopsy, she found about 30 stab wounds, including several that would have been fatal, including one to the heart, one in each of her lungs and one in her neck, Taber said.
They left her body at the lake and on Aug. 6, 2011, a man visiting the area found her body in about four inches of water among the reeds and called 911.
When Chatham County Sheriff’s investigators arrived, they saw it was the body of young woman who had been stabbed to death and put out an alert for 50 miles asking other law enforcement agencies if they had any reports of a missing person.
Perez-Godinez’s mother had reported her missing on Aug. 5 when she didn’t come home, and the Wake County Sheriff’s Office responded to the alert. The clothing and description matched and later investigators were able to confirm the identity of Perez-Godinez.
Investigators identified Lopez as a possible suspect and when they interviewed him, he initially denied having any contact with Perez-Godinez during those few days, but after confronting him with phone records, he began to admit his involvement in her murder and eventually confessed to stabbing her, Taber said. “She had refused to take the pill,” Taber said. “He did not want to have a baby.”
“At the end of the interview, he said, ‘Please do not tell her mother I had sex with her, but you can tell her that I killed her,’ ” Taber said.
Later, investigators took Lopez and Sanchez to the Bells Church fishing area on Farrington Road and the two men illustrated what they had done while investigators videotaped it, Taber said.
As Taber showed the judge photos of Perez-Godinez and explained what happened, the parents of Perez-Godinez, her aunt, cousins and other family friends listened and wept.
On the other side of the courtroom, members of Lopez’s family also cried.
Taber read a statement from the victim’s mother, Rosario Perez, saying that her daughter’s death has been very difficult to accept and that some members of the family felt rage over what Lopez did.
Taber said the family, however, did not want Lopez to be sentenced to death.
“They were clear that they never had any wish that Mr. Lopez should pay for their daughter’s life with his own,” Taber said.
An interpreter read a statement from Perez-Godinez’s aunt: “We have not overcome this pain,” the statement said. “Sometimes I feel her in my home just the way she was, always with her playfulness and her smile from ear to ear, always happy.”
Sanchez also faces charges in connection with the murder, but his case has not yet been resolved in court.