SANTA ANA – The brother of a Placentia killer was sentenced Friday to a year of probation for helping cover up the 1994 murder of Cathy Torrez.
Armando Lopez – whose brother Sam Lopez stabbed his girlfriend to death and left her body in a car’s trunk – agreed to a plea deal requiring that he admit to a misdemeanor count of dissuading a witness in return for prosecutors dropping a felony count of being an accessory after the fact.
At the time of the murder, Armando Lopez was married to Torrez’s sister.
Armando Lopez was the last person to face criminal charges in connection to Torrez’s slaying, a crime that shocked residents in Placentia and beyond and tore apart the killer and victim’s families, who grew up together in a tight-knit neighborhood.
Sam Lopez, during his 2015 sentencing when he received 26 years to life in prison, made a surprise confession and apology to the family of 20-year-old Torrez. The Torrez family and police had long suspected him.
That same year, Sam and Armando’s cousin, Xavier Lopez, plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and received a four-year, eight-month prison sentence for his role.
Several years after the murder, Daron Wyatt, now an Anaheim sergeant and then a detective in Placentia, revived the investigation. More advanced DNA-comparison techniques led to Xavier Lopez’s DNA being found on Torrez’s clothes, as well as bloody fingerprints on her car.
During Sam Lopez’s 2015 trial, Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy told jurors that Torrez and Lopez had renewed their relationship in the weeks before her death. Murphy said Sam Lopez became enraged when he discovered a hickey another man had given Torrez. Lopez was also angered by Torrez turning down his suggestion that they elope, because she wanted a wedding with her family.
The night of her death, Torrez drove to a Placentia ice cream shop to meet Sam Lopez. There, Lopez got into Torrez’s car and had her drive to an apartment complex,…