Murder Conviction Upheld in 2010 Taunton Stabbing
A young man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of a Taunton teen will not get a new trial and his conviction will stand, the state's highest court has ruled.
Etnid Lopez in 2014 was convicted of murdering Tigan Hollingsworth, a teenage boy who was stabbed 13 times. Lopez, like his victim, was only 17 at the time of the killing. Because he was a juvenile, Lopez is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
The Supreme Judicial Court today rejected Lopez's motions for a new trial and post-conviction discovery. In a 33-page opinion, the high court ruled that prosecutors and the trial judge acted properly. While police investigators "failed to scrupulously honor" Lopez's Miranda rights, statements made by Lopez before he invoked his right to remain silent were still deemed admissible.
On the night of June 25, 2010, the defendant, his girlfriend Kayla Lawrence, Jared Brown-Garnham and Michelle Torey drove to a convenience store in Taunton. When Lopez was inside the store, Lawrence argued with Hollingsworth in the parking lot, court documents state. Witnesses said two men pursued Hollingworth on foot into a nearby yard and assaulted him. Hollingsworth suffered from 13 stab wounds and his cause of death was collapsed lungs and massive blood loss.
Lopez’s uncle, Erving "Burd" Cruz, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after being convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder in the case. And the defendant's brother, Jean Carlos “JC” Lopez, was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted that year of first-degree murder, but his conviction was recently overturned by the Supreme Judicial Court.
The defendant's theory at trial was that Brown-Garnham was the killer. Garnham in 2013 was shot and killed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by a state police trooper during a standoff. Lopez's attorneys had hoped to present evidence that Garnham had admitted to stabbing Hollingsworth. The SJC ruled that even if Garnham had stabbed the victim, it would not have affected Lopez's conviction as a joint venturer.
The court today affirmed that Etnid Lopez and Erving Cruz "were involved in a joint venture that resulted in the victim's death." The justices wrote that evidence in the case, including incriminating text messages, could stand.
Lopez and Hollingsworth had reportedly been feuding with each other since middle school. “This is another senseless killing involving youth violence,’’ former Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said at the time.