Corrections Officer Alleged To Have Improper Contact With Juror
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GURNEE, Ill. (STMW) – An attorney for former Gurnee resident Sandra Lopez, recently convicted for her role in a brutal Park City home invasion, is exploring whether there was improper contact between a Lake County sheriff’s corrections officer and jurors during the trial.
Attorney Christopher Lombardo said Tuesday he is filing a motion seeking any information, including investigative or police reports, on the possibility that a corrections officer in the courthouse may have had improper conversations with jurors or witnesses.
Lombardo acknowledged that if found to be significant, the incident could result in a motion for a mistrial or a new trial for Lobez.
A status hearing on the motion is scheduled Dec. 11.
Sheriff Mark Curran said Tuesday, Nov. 26, he was aware of the situation and that “the officer no longer works for us.”
A sheriff’s administrator added that the part-time corrections officer was on probation and had been let go when the incident came to light. The officer apparently conversed and passed a note to an alternate juror who did not serve on the final panel, he said.
Sentencing of Lopez for her conviction on three counts of home invasion and two counts of armed robbery by a jury in October had been scheduled Tuesday afternoon, but has been rescheduled to Dec.18.
Lopez, who fled the country for El Salvador after being charged in the 1999 home invasion, was found to have inflicted a knife injury to one of the two victims in the case.
According to officials and testimony at the trial, Lopez, 43, planned and helped carry out the armed robbery of two women in a Park City home, stabbing one in the hand and using duct tape to bind them before making off with jewelry.
The prosecution’s star witness was Lopez’s niece, Lizeth Dominguez, who pleaded guilty to the robbery in 1999 and described how the robbery occurred and stated that it was Lopez who orchestrated the crime.
In a separate 1995 case, Lopez had beaten murder charges in the stabbing death of her husband in his Highwood restaurant.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)