On October 28, 2017, Henry Lopez was drunk when he passed out while smoking a cigarette in his Bernardo Terrace, California home. The burning cigarette started a fire that killed his two children.
Isabella was just 7 years old and Cristos was only 10. On January 8, the father was sentenced for his role in his children’s deaths.
According to KGTV, Lopez was sentenced to 12 years and eight months in prison for starting the fire that killed his son and daughter. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, and recklessly causing a fire in an inhabited home.
The court hearing was tense, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which reported that Lopez called the prosecutor a liar and fought with his ex-wife Nikia Lopez during the proceedings for nearly an hour.
At one point Nikia told her former husband, “I told you if you continued on this path of reckless behavior something bad was going to happen. And guess what, it did. Those kids are gone. You took my children.”
“I heard (Lopez) state that justice was not served and that in fact, the prosecutor is a liar,” said Judge Steven Stone after the disruptions. “I completely disagree with these statements. But to me, more importantly, is that it shows that the defendant has completely and utterly failed to accept responsibility for his actions.”
Lopez’s lawyers argued that he had attempted to save his children from the fire. EMTs found him at the top of the stairs with burns covering 13 percent of his body. He was kept in a medically-induced coma for three weeks after the fire while he recovered.
However, prosecutors argued that Lopez had been fighting with his ex-girlfriend and began drinking heavily. He ultimately passed out on the bed with a lit cigarette which started the blaze. According to KGTV, it’s believed the lit cigarette “made contact with a defective cell phone, sparking the blaze.”
As noted by the judge, Lopez’s refusal to take responsibility was one of the more frustrating elements of the case, igniting anger in his ex-wife, as well as the jurors. When Lopez claimed in court that he was not responsible for the fire, one juror who ultimately convicted him shouted, “It happened on your watch,” People reported.
Isabella and Cristos died from carbon monoxide poisoning and fatal burns. Fire investigators said Isabella passed out due to smoke inhalation and Cristos burned to death.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.