Opening statements took place on Monday in the murder trial of a former Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldier charged with shooting and killing his wife in 2012.
Prosecutors claim 26-year-old David Lopez shot his wife, Sara Lopez, in the head the evening of Dec. 12, 2012 after learning that the couple's 2-year-old daughter had been temporarily taken into custody by the state Office of Children's Services.
"David Lopez was angry, he was drunk, he was violent and he was threatening. By his own admission, he's an angry man with a temper," said Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion. "He was angry with his wife because she had their daughter taken away."
Campion told the jury that on the morning of her death, Sara Lopez noticed bruising on the toddler's leg and ear, as well as what appeared to be a rash on her face. She took the girl to the JBER hospital, and staff there later notified OCS. They took the girl away and found emergency placement in a foster home.
"'I shot my wife because she took my daughter away.' Those were David Lopez' words in the moments after his wife was shot in the head, in the left temple," Campion said, describing what Lopez told a dispatcher when he called 911.
While the state alleges Lopez murdered his wife, the defense argues Sara Lopez committed suicide. Defense attorney Dunnington Babb told the jury that Sara Lopez suffered from depression and had been hospitalized 18 months earlier. She was addicted to opioids, Babb said, and was neglecting herself and their daughter.
"Sara succumbed to the despair and the hopelessness and she shot herself," Babb said.
The defense played audio of the same 911 call described by Campion. In the recording, Lopez tells the dispatcher he thinks he shot his wife. The dispatcher asked why and Lopez replied "because she took my daughter to the ER and had her taken away."
In a second recording also played by the defense, from Lopez's interview with an APD detective, he says he did not shoot his wife, but that he felt responsible.
Lopez is charged with first-degree and second-degree murder, resisting or interfering with arrest, and terroristic threatening, for allegedly calling an OCS case worker and threatening to shoot everyone at OCS if he did not get his daughter back.
Lopez had returned from a 10-month deployment in Afghanistan in September 2012. The family had lived in Alaska since 2010, when Lopez was stationed at JBER.