Henry Lopez, a California resident accused of starting a fire at his home that killed his two children, has been sentenced to over 12 years in prison. Lopez’s lawyers maintain that the fire was actually caused by a faulty phone charger. Despite the sentencing, Lopez maintains his innocence.
Early in the morning of October 28, 2017, Henry Lopez’s home caught fire. The prosecution alleges that this occurred after Lopez passed out from heavy drinking, when a lit cigarette he was smoking fell from his hands. The defense insists upon the contrary: that a faulty phone charger that was partially under Lopez’s pillow is what caused the blaze.
Notably, investigators found no evidence for either theory of how the blaze started. What is certain is that Lopez was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.22 percent, which would mean he was likely very inebriated when the flames broke out.
Lopez was awakened abruptly by the flames, and according to investigators, he was able to escape the home through a window on the first floor. After escaping, however, he realized his two children were still inside. He rushed back in and attempted to save them, finding 7-year-old daughter Isabelle on the bottom bunk of her brother’s bed, though she was nearly dead from smoke inhalation.
10-year-old son Cristos was later found in his father’s bed and was rushed to the hospital by first responders. Sadly, he died from his burns. Lopez himself didn’t escape the home, instead collapsing near the stairs after trying to rescue his children. He spent three weeks in a medically-induced coma so he could recover from his extensive burns.
According to reports from within the courtroom, Lopez’s trial was heated. The mother of the two children, Nikia Lopez, Henry’s ex-wife, stated that Henry was abusive and drank too much. Henry emphatically disagreed, shouting that Nikia was lying to the jury.
According to reporters, one unnamed juror allegedly took offense to Lopez’s defense of himself, shouting “F–k this! Take responsibility for your actions. It happened on your watch. F–k this,” before storming out of the courtroom.
The judge sentenced Lopez to the maximum possible punishment on counts of child endangerment, a total of twelve years and eight months in prison.