Anaheim Mom Rejects Plea Deal for DUI Suspect Accused of Family Deaths

A woman from Orange County, California, continues to grieve the loss of her daughter and husband, who were killed in a car accident last year. Erika Lopez expressed concerns that the accused drunk driver, who caused the accident, might get a lesser sentence due to a potential plea deal. Lopez, who held her youngest child Estrellita as she spoke, said her remaining offspring and the memory of her late first-born and spouse were what kept her going after the tragic loss in January 2023.

The unfortunate event resulted in the death of Lopez’s 10-year-old daughter Lucero, husband Alberto, and a close friend from their church. It left her sister-in-law disabled. According to police, the group was returning from their Nueva Vida Church in Placentia when an allegedly inebriated motorist rammed his vehicle into their van.

Talking about her sorrow, Lopez confessed to having contemplated suicide at one point. As she waded through this emotional turmoil, more disappointment arose when she learned that the DUI suspect, identified as Mario Armando Paz Jr., might receive a plea bargain. She lamented the fact that while Paz was in jail, he still had the privilege of living, eating, and interacting with friends in prison.

In her tearful recounting in Spanish, Lopez expressed her anguish saying, “I cannot see my daughter. I cannot talk to my daughter. I cannot see my husband. My baby does not know the touch of her father.”

In a related legal suit, Gabriel Jenson, an assistant attorney of the law firm representing the victims, highlighted the difficulty of obtaining compensation for them in California. As many organizations, including churches and businesses, carry limited insurance policies, there is only about $130,000 to split among 10 to 13 claimants.

For Lopez, seeking justice means seeing the 25-year-old DUI suspect serving life in prison. Despite her financial struggles, she recently found employment. A GoFundMe page has been set up for anyone willing to offer financial assistance to Lopez and her children.

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