Hearing date for flirting court security officers set for Feb. 5
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org | @JimNewton5 January 28, 2014 5:06PM
Updated: March 3, 2014 2:08PM
A hearing on defense motions related to inappropriate behavior by two trainee court security officers during the trial of former Gurnee fugitive Sandra Lopez has been scheduled for Feb. 5.
The two former trainees, who lost their jobs due to the incidents, testified as to their actions earlier this month under a judge’s order after defense attorney Christopher Lombardo filed a motion for a new trial due to their actions.
A sentencing date for Lopez is still pending, after she was convicted last fall of charges related to violent Beach Park home invasion. She remains in Lake County Jail without bond.
The former officers confirmed in their testimony that one had left his phone number in a sack lunch of an alternate juror he was interested in getting to know, and a second had approached Lopez’s daughter, a witness in the trial, and asked her to give his phone number to one of her friends that he found attractive.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into the incidents before the trainees were fired.
Lombardo has said the actions of the trainees raise doubts about the procedures during the trial and questions about whether any other improprieties occurred. Prosecutors have acknowledged the officers’ behavior was inappropriate, but maintain it did not affect the trial or its outcome.
Lopez was convicted on three counts of home invasion and two counts of armed robbery by the jury in October, and had been scheduled for sentencing Dec. 18 before the issues involving the security officers came up.
Lopez, who fled the country for El Salvador after being charged in the 1999 home invasion, was found to have inflicted a knife injury to one of the two victims in the case.
According to officials and testimony at the trial, Lopez, 43, planned and helped carry out the armed robbery of two women in a Park City home, stabbing one in the hand and using duct tape to bind them before making off with jewelry.
In a separate 1995 case, Lopez was found not guilty of murder charges in the stabbing death of her husband in his Highwood restaurant.