The Murder of Brianna Lopez
Brianna Lopez was a beautiful, flawless baby girl when she first greeted the world on Valentines Day, 2002. Despite her mother Stephanie Lopez’ use of drugs and alcohol during her pregnancy, Brianna was a healthy, inquisitive baby, and she was cleared to go home just two days after being born. It was in a squalid trailer home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that the tiny newborn would be exposed to the most depraved abuses imaginable.
Little Brianna was mistreated horribly from day one; when the infant cried or fretted for attention, her mother Stephanie or her father Andrew Walters would slap and push her to the floor. When the baby screamed out in pain her sadistic parents would stuff used diapers in Brianna’s mouth or muffle the noise underneath piles of clothing. The baby’s maternal uncle, Stephen Lopez, would take part in the abuse too, often biting Brianna so hard she bled.
Over the course of her short 153-day long life, Brianna would be subjected to daily abuse; slaps, pinches, kicks, and bites. Her ribs were broken, as were both arms and one leg. The back of her head was slammed repeatedly against the floor. Her little fingers were twisted until they broke and bled. Most horribly, Andrew Walters and Steven Lopez took turns in sexually assaulting the baby, from the very first day she was brought home. Stephanie Lopez did not always partake in the hideous abuse of her daughter, but she passively stood by while her boyfriend and brother tortured Brianna.
On July 18, 2002, all three adults in the trailer got drunk, and Stephen Lopez began tossing Brianna across the room to Andrew Walters. Lopez admitted later he dropped the baby a few times, and that Walters threw her at the ceiling. Brianna’s cries of pain went totally ignored, and eventually the drunken men stumbled off to bed, leaving the baby face down on the kitchen floor.
The next morning, around 7am, Stephanie Lopez awoke and found Brianna unresponsive and covered in fresh bruises. She questioned her boyfriend Andrew about the injuries, to which he responded that he “might have been a little too rough” with Brianna the previous night. Unperturbed, Stephanie left the baby with Andrew while she left to go shopping. While she was gone Steven and Andrew sexually assaulted Brianna with various objects and slammed her into a wall. When she returned home Stephanie noticed the baby’s unresponsive state, but did nothing. It was only until the next morning when Brianna refused to feed that Stephanie finally called an ambulance, feeding the paramedics a story that the baby had fallen from her high chair. Medical stuff knew instantly that Brianna’s injuries could have only resulted from prolonged child abuse, and all three adults were arrested.
Sadly, little Brianna died while doctors tried to revive her. She was only five months old.
Stephanie Lopez was found guilty of first-degree child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to a maximum of twenty seven years in prison. She was released in June 2016 after serving fourteen years.
Andrew Walters and Steven Lopez were both found guilty of child abuse resulting in death, sexual assault, criminal negligence, and failure to report child abuse. Walters recieved fifty-seven years and Lopez fifty-one.
Baby Brianna’s remains went unclaimed by her family, so the residents of Las Cruces claimed her body and set up a memorial site with an angel statue.