GOLDEN, Colo. - A jury has convicted a 23-year-old man of strangling his girlfriend in his Lakewood home.
The Jefferson County District Attorney's office said Corey Anthony Lopez was found guilty last week of first-degree murder after deliberation for the 2012 slaying of 21-year-old Richelle Ann Best.
Lopez called 911 around noon on July 24 and told the operator he woke up to find his girlfriend blue, cold and stiff. He said he pushed her off the bed and onto the floor before he went to borrow a neighbor’s phone to call 911.
Prosecutors said the evidence showed he strangled her during a heated argument sparked by jealousy.
“He pressed, squeezed and strangled the life out of her," Deputy District Attorney Lisa Scanga told the jury.
She told them that it would have taken 3 to 5 minutes to kill Best by strangulation, and that it required constant, consistent pressure. Best could have been unconscious in 6-8 seconds, but Lopez didn’t stop. There was evidence that the young woman struggled as he strangled her to unconsciousness. Best suffered 40 injuries to her body. The jury heard testimony from doctors that muscles in her neck were hemorrhaging as well as her larynx, vocal chords, esophagus and the tissue surrounding the thyroid cartilage.
Jurors also heard from another young woman who had lived with Lopez in 2008 and had a similar experience. During an argument, Lopez grabbed her from behind, dragged her into the bedroom. He locked the door and began punching and strangling her. In this case, fortunately, a friend broke into the room and pulled Lopez off the young woman.
Lopez, who is being held without bail, faces up to life in prison without parole when he is sentenced July 16.
“In the United States, a woman is assaulted by an intimate partner every nine seconds,” said District Attorney Peter Weir, “In this case, the tragic death of Richelle Best reminds us that something must change. We will start with aggressive prosecution of domestic violence offenders.”