In an emotional plea Thursday, a 43-year-old man, who’s been in jail for a murder he committed when he was 17, asks for a second chance.
Eduardo Lopez Jr. was given a life sentence without parole for fatally shooting a man in the head during a robbery attempt 26 years ago. But the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled such mandatory sentences are unconstitutional when applied to juveniles.
That’s why Lopez is being resentenced. Lopez is now 43 but with a gray beard and weathered face, he looks much older.
Lopez made his plea to the court Thursday by first apologizing to the victim’s family and then his own – most of whom were in the court room. Through tears, he explained that he was wrong and cannot be forgiven but says he’s not that same person.
“I have changed from that punk kid – I am not a monster. This man in front of you is not the kid from the past – I have grown and I have changed," he said. "I have learned a lot from my mistakes – please give me a chance to prove this to you.”
If he gets out, Lopez says he plans to mentor troubled youth and coach sports with his brothers in Nashua. He said he also plans to do counseling, attend AA meetings and work in HVAC.
Lopez's mother and youngest brother Aaron also spoke on his behalf. Aaron told the court that his oldest brother is still a big part of the family - he talks to his nieces and nephews almost weekly and never forgets a birthday.
Aaron went on to say how it took several years until the family could talk to Eduardo about what he did back in 1991. "I couldn't personally believe that the same person who taught me how to ride a bike, throw a ball and help me put on my football pads could ever do a crime like he did - that's not my big brother," he said tearing up.
He went on to describe how Lopez has taken steps to better himself such as earning a GED, an HVAC license and learning to play bass for the prison band.
Lopez is asking to be released within the year – the state though wants him to serve another 25.
In his closing remarks, Aaron asked his father and middle brother to stand up in front of the judge. He went on to say that his brother is 4 years younger than Eduardo - his father 22 years older.
“He [Eduardo] looks older than all of us and why because he spent 26 years of his life behind bars doing hard time and it has taken a toll on him physically and emotionally, and I’m afraid if the prosecution gets the 51 years that they are recommending, he won’t see a day of his release.”
A judge will resentence Lopez early February.