by Grace Jung
The prosecution handed a paper and pen to the defendant, Daniel Lopez, to try to understand the encounter he had with his now ex-father-in-law on the evening of January 1, 2019, at Willow Creek Horse Park. He was asked to draw the position of his white Dodge pickup truck in relation to where the alleged victim was standing before the incident occurred.
Deputy Gary Richter with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office stated that the victim had described to him that Lopez had threatened to assault and kill him. The victim indicated that he was in fear because Lopez had approached him that night. Deputy Richter was able to associate the white Dodge pickup truck with the defendant and surveilled his residence for the vehicle, but claimed Lopez did not return to his home that night.
Daniel Lopez was called to the stand and testified that he physically drove to the ranch to have a conversation with his father-in-law because he thought it would be more respectful to talk face to face rather than making a phone call.
Lopez testified that he did not have any intention to threaten or harm him and simply wanted to have a conversation with his father-in-law to clear up any misunderstandings before officially divorcing his wife.
The defendant confirmed that he saw the victim quickly approaching his truck as he completed a three-point turn. Moments after he put his hand on the gear shift of the vehicle, his father-in-law was standing between the door and his path to get out of the truck which prevented Lopez from opening the door.
The prosecution attempted to visualize this encounter by asking him to sketch where the truck was stationed in relation to the victim.
Lopez expressed his surprise that the victim greeted him with, “What do you want here?” He mentioned that the victim’s tone seemed like he did not want to talk with him that night. Lopez emphasized that he was expecting to be greeted by him, but was rather taken aback at the cold response he got in return.
The defendant also claimed he saw other individuals, including his mother-in-law, approach his truck.
Lopez explained that, although he tried to speak with his father-in-law, it was difficult to do so because his mother-in-law “got in between” their conversation. They both urged him to go back home, but Lopez claimed he couldn’t clearly understand everything that the victim said that night.
Lopez stated, “I was in shock and afraid by his demeanor,” muttered a “sorry and thank you” as he backed away and left the property.
In the cross-examination, Lopez testified that previous to Jan. 1, 2019, he did not engage in any telephone call with his in-laws and did not show any sign of disrespect toward them. Lopez mentioned once again that he did not think he would be unwelcome prior to entering the ranch property.
He reiterated in his testimony that at no time did he threaten the victim, yell, or make hand gestures during their encounter. He attested that he simply wanted to clear up any misunderstandings that may be lingering between them before proceeding with the divorce.
Lopez testified that he and his now ex-wife were already separated for a couple of months prior to this meeting with the in-laws, and he had made no attempt to call his father-in-law during that period of separation.
Jury instructions will be finalized and the trial will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. to hear closing arguments.