Salem, Mass. – Jurors spent seven hours behind closed doors yesterday but did not reach a verdict in the murder of a food deliveryman who died after he was assaulted and robbed outside a Lawrence housing project in July 2009.
Daniel Lee Lopez, 24, of Lawrence, faces life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder of Thu Nguyen, 59, of Methuen, a Vietnamese immigrant and father of three who worked a second job delivering Chinese food. Lopez is also charged with involuntary manslaughter and unarmed robbery.
Ronny Ramos, 20, of Lawrence, is charged with unarmed robbery and larceny.
Jurors in the case briefly deliberated Wednesday afternoon and all day yesterday. They are expected back at Salem Superior Court at 9 a.m. today.
Jurors sent one question to Judge David Lowy yesterday, asking if they could see the grand jury testimony of witness Wainer Caba. Lowy denied the jury’s request, saying they must rely on their memory of the evidence.
When Caba, 20, of Lawrence, testified at trial, he said he lied to a police investigator and told the same lies when he was called to testify before the Essex County Grand Jury.
He also admitted on the stand he didn’t want to testify during the trial.
Last week, before the trial opened, a Methuen man was arrested for calling Caba a “chota,” which means “snitch” in Spanish, when he saw him at the Salem courthouse. Cesar Jimenez, 33, was arrested and charged with intimidating a witness.
Jimenez is the boyfriend of Lopez’s mother.
The trial was marked by Caba and other prosecution witnesses from Lawrence who said they couldn’t remember or didn’t want to testify about what happened on July 30, 2009, the night Nguyen was robbed and assaulted after he delivered the bogus Chinese food order to the Lawrence Stadium Housing Projects.
Prosecutors allege Lopez and Ramos called the Evergreen Restaurant at 105 So. Union St. that night with the intent of robbing Nguyen and stealing the food. But at 10 p.m., Nguyen was struck, fell to the ground and fractured his skull on the sidewalk near the low-income housing development near Lawrence High School.
Dr. Marie Cannon, a state medical examiner, testified that Nguyen suffered a 5-inch skull fracture. She said his cause of death was blunt force head trauma that led to fatal brain bleeding.
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