U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Lopez.

U.S. Army/Courtesy

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Lopez.

Defense speaks in Lopez case

Attorney says two suspects were not aggressors in fatal downtown fight

— The attorney for two suspects in the death of Richard Lopez, an Army Special Forces soldier, said Lopez and his friends were the aggressors in the fatal confrontation.

In a press release issued today, local attorney Charles Feldmann identified the two suspects as only "Eddie" and "David," two Florida brothers in their early 20s. The two men were unaware Lopez had been injured when they took off running from the fight and left downtown in a taxi with their wife and girlfriend, Feldmann said.

"They didn't know he was injured at all. They were shocked and horrified when they found out what happened to him," Feldmann said today.

"The family, my clients are just very traumatized by what happened to them in Steamboat Springs," Feldmann continued. "They're devastated that somebody of such a caliber as Sgt. Lopez was hurt in any way, let alone passed away later. They're just devastated."

Sgt. 1st Class Lopez, 37, died of severe head and brain trauma Jan. 5 in a Denver hospital, three days after the downtown altercation. His dispute with Feldmann's clients began over a jukebox song selection at The Tap House.

The two suspects were vacationing in Steamboat Springs with family over the holidays. The two went to the downtown bar on the night of Jan. 1 with Eddie's wife and David's girlfriend.

The two men got into an argument with Lopez, and two of his friends, Timothy and Wesley Mottlau. The altercation became physical after all the men left the bar.

Lopez was found unconscious at about 12:15 a.m. Jan. 2 at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue. He was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and later was airlifted to Denver Health Medical Center.

Preliminary autopsy results from the Arapahoe County coroner's office showed Lopez took two hits - one to the face and one to the jaw - but the most serious blow was from falling backward and hitting his head on the pavement.

Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae has said investigators are considering charges for the two suspects ranging from second-degree murder to second-degree assault.

In the case of second-degree murder charges - the most serious charge being considered by investigators - prosecutors would have to prove that the suspects "knowingly" caused Lopez's death.

Second-degree murder is typically punishable by eight to 24 years in prison.

The lesser charge of manslaughter differs from second-degree murder in that the accused "recklessly," rather than "knowingly," caused a death, according to the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Steamboat Springs Police Department at 879-4344 or CrimeStoppers at 879-6226.

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