Jury selection begins in 1999 armed robbery case
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org | @JimNewton5 October 21, 2013 12:34PM
Updated: November 23, 2013 6:14AM
The bizarre case of a 43-year-old former Gurnee woman who was acquitted on charges that she stabbed her husband to death only to flee the country after being accused in 1999 of an armed robbery and home invasion goes to trial this week in Lake County Circuit Court.
Jury selection began Monday morning in the trial of former fugitive Sandra Lopez, who was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Bloomington in March and has been held in Lake County Jail on a $1 million bond since.
Until her arrest, Lopez had been hiding out since being charged with an armed robbery and home invasion she allegedly committed with another woman in Park City on April 5, 1999.
Lopez and Lizeth Dominguez, who was 23 at the time, allegedly conned their way into a mobile home in the 3500 block of Howard Street by telling the residents they were health inspectors. They threatened the residents with knives, bound them with duct tape and took $2,000 worth of jewelry.
Dominguez was sentenced to six months in jail in October 1999, and ordered to pay $151 in restitution for the medical bill of a victim, and a portion of the value of the stolen jewelry.
Lopez, meanwhile, was believed to have fled to El Salvador with her former defense attorney, James A. Borrasso, formerly of Gurnee. El Salvador has no extradition treaty with the United States. Borrasso was disbarred for allegedly helping her to flee.
Lopez was already well known in the legal community after having been charged with stabbing her husband to death in September 1995. She maintained she stabbed her husband in self-defense, although prosecutors said that she had changed her story to police several times.
Her husband, Isaac, 44, was killed Sept. 15, 1996, at his Highwood restaurant, Mexico Lindo. He died of stab wounds between 10:30 and 11 p.m. that night.
Police focused on Lopez after becoming suspicious when she gave conflicting accounts about cuts on her hands.
Jury selection for the home invasion and armed robbery trial was expected to take all afternoon Monday, with the trial continuing Tuesday.