Brothers denied appeal in 2011 gang shooting
SPOKANE — Two brothers convicted in the 2011 drive-by murder of Adan Beltran in Quincy failed to convince the Washington Court of Appeals to overturn their cases.
Benjamin Lopez Jr., 20, and Abraham Lopez Torres, 19, argued that their 2012 conviction at trial for the gang-related shooting involved misleading jury instructions, which would have allowed jurors to find guilt even if reasonable doubt still existed. The three-judge panel of the court’s Division III in Spokane disagreed.
Abraham, the gunman who shot Beltran in his own yard in broad daylight as part of an ongoing gang dispute, is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Benjamin, who was tried with his brother, received 15 years for directing the driver, Roberto “Lil Man” Murillo Vera of Wenatchee, to the alley behind Beltran’s home.
Murillo Vera was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role.
The three were arrested, along with a passenger who prosecutors determined was not involved in the murder, after a police chase from the Quincy area into Douglas County.
The Lopez brothers said instructions to jurors should have told them it was “your duty” to acquit them if a reasonable doubt of guilt remained. Instead, the instructions said they “should” acquit in the face of reasonable doubt.
Appellate Judge Robert Lawrence-Berrey, writing for the court, said the instruction was in error but noted the defense agreed to the language in the original trial.
“He cannot complain of an error that he actively set up at trial,” the judge wrote in Benjamin’s case.
Beltran was murdered on April 22, 2011. Both brothers were juveniles at the time of the murder.
They were driving in a car with Murillo Vera when, at a trailer park at F Street and 6th Avenue Southeast, they exited the vehicle and chased Beltran around the side of a singlewide trailer before gunning him down.
The killing was in retaliation for another gang-related murder.
— By Jefferson Robbins, Wenatchee World