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October 4, 2012

Murder of food delivery man goes to jury

LAWRENCE — Are Daniel Lee Lopez and Ronny Ramos the “cowards” that beat a 59-year-old Chinese food deliveryman to his death in 2009, as prosecutors allege, or are they innocent?

Jurors this morning will resume deliberations in the Salem, Mass. Superior Court trial that opened last Friday. Lopez, 24, is charged with Nguyen’s first-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and unarmed robbery, while Ramos, 20, is charged with unarmed robbery.

The trial was marked by a series of 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, a Vietnamese immigrant living in Methuen, was robbed and assaulted after he delivered a 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 intention of robbing Nguyen and stealing the food. 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.

On Tuesday, 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.

Just a single defense witness was called during the trial - Dr. William Stuart, an expert medical witness with a background in emergency room medicine.

When questioned by Aviva Jeruchim, Lopez’s attorney, Stuart said he was paid to testify at the trial.

Nguyen suffered from cirrohsis of the liver and had stomach surgery to remove gastric cancer - two medical conditions that effect blood clotting and bone strength, Stuart said.

“I was surprised by the amount of bone damage and the amount of bleeding that result from one alleged punch,” Stuart testified.

Carol Cahill, Ramos’ public defender, did not call any witnesses during the trial.

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