25 Years to Life in Prison for Men Convicted in Duct Tape Asphyxiation Case

By Jake Romero

DUBLIN, CA — Judge Michael Gaffey sentenced convicted murderers David Martin and Eduardo Bibiano-Lopez to 25 years to life imprisonment Friday at the East County Hall of Justice / Alameda County Superior Court.

In August, a jury found Martin, 23, and Bibiano-Lopez, 27, guilty of first-degree murder for the November 2018 death of Jose Lechuga. The two men battered Lechuga inside his home and bound him with rope and duct tape—an autopsy determined asphyxiation was the cause of death.

The court received multiple letters from family members of both Lechuga and Bibiano-Lopez prior to the sentencing. Judge Gaffey asked a court interpreter to read a letter written in Spanish by the victim’s sister aloud for the court.

“I am sure that the lives of these heartless people will never have peace, ever. They will have to pay, just as justice will decide, and God also will hold them accountable,” the woman said in her letter. “We will not have any consideration for them because they didn’t have it for us.”

Judge Gaffey said the court had not encountered a murder case in several years where a great bodily injury or firearm was not involved, and so the court must consider probation.

One of the many factors Judge Gaffey considered—before he declared probation was undeserved—is whether the defendant used a dangerous or deadly weapon. He concluded that the rope and duct tape used in the crime qualified as such weapons.

“The instrumentality may have benign or innocent uses, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a dangerous and deadly weapon if you use it as such,” Judge Gaffey said.

Martin and Bibiano-Lopez were given the opportunity to make statements prior to the sentencing.

“I just want to apologize to my family who had to go through this stressful time with me, and I’d like to apologize for the loss of the Lechuga family,” Martin said.

Bibiano-Lopez did not address the court, at the advice of his attorney.

About The Author

Jake is a senior at UC Berkeley studying English & Journalism.

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