Defense Alleges Co-Defendant, Not Client, Killed Victim

Baltimore Courthouse

A homicide defendant’s defense attorney kicked off his client’s trial on Oct. 7 by claiming that the defendant was not behind the death of the victim but rather his co-defendant.

Ulises Lopez, 21, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, use of a firearm in a violent crime, illegal possession of a regulated firearm, possession of a firearm as a minor, having a loaded handgun in a vehicle, and having a loaded handgun on his person in connection to an incident on March 16, 2020.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer presided over the trial, along with 12 jurors who were chosen earlier that morning.  

During his opening statement, the prosecutor noted that he would prove that Lopez shot and killed Sergio Jones on March 16, 2020, on the 400 block of S. Lehigh Street.

Before the incident occurred, he said, the defendant and his co-defendant, Jerry Cruz, decided to hang out and smoke marijuana. The two went to a deli store, Brotherly Deli, on the 4600 block of Eastern Avenue, where Lopez got out of the car and went inside to grab some snacks and a drink. 

After leaving the store, Cruz drove the two back to Lopez’s house; however, before they arrived, Lopez looked out the passenger window and spotted Jones walking. Lopez told Cruz to make a quick U-turn, and after doing so, Lopez got out of the car and allegedly shot Jones seven times.

Jones died immediately, the prosecutor said. 

During the defense counsel’s opening statement, defense attorney Akiva Gross accused Cruz, not his client, of shooting and killing Jones.

Cruz was initially charged with first-degree murder but accepted a plea agreement the morning of the trial in exchange for his testimony against Lopez. Gross added that Cruz would lie to the jury in order to save himself. 

Gross said that the witnesses of the incident were not reliable as they were uncertain of what happened.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Oct. 8 as the prosecution calls its witnesses to the stand.