Emotions Run High On First Day Of Lopez Trial
MAYVILLE — An emotional sister and a disputed video highlighted the first day of the second-degree manslaughter case regarding Ashleyanne Lopez-Lopez. Lopez is on trial for the death of 15-year old Jefrena Brown, which resulted in her death last year.
Friday’s proceedings started slow, speeding up as the day progressed. After explaining criminal proceedings to the jurors and attendees present, Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley, signaled for opening statements from counsel present. Shortly thereafter Dachira Santana, 28 took the stand for the prosecution. Utilizing a translator, Santana stated that she drove to the scene around 3:30 p.m. May 15 after hearing that a fight was going to take place on Lincoln Avenue; her reason for being there was to make the father of her nephew aware of the upcoming event. When she arrived there was approximately 20 people there of mixed ages ranging from high schoolers to adults.
Santana stated that she knew the victim, Jefrena Brown, as her sister was best friends with Brown’s sister; she also had known Lopez for several years prior to the altercation. According to Santana, Lopez was already on the street when the fight between two boys began.
Santana, while sitting on the hood of her car with Lopez standing near her, commented that the events happened so quickly it was hard to tell when one fight ended and the one between Lopez and Brown erupted. According to Santana, Brown confronted Lopez, who was holding a knife, but claimed that Lopez didn’t intend to fight. Santana’s sister tried to stop Brown, but it was already too late as blood coated Brown’s hand. It wasn’t more than two minutes later that Santana drove Brown to Brooks Hospital.
Brown died the following day at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo.
During Santana’s testimony, three videos were entered into evidence with the first, a video depicting the fight prior to Brown and Lopez’s, being called into question by defense attorney Jason Schmidt. Schmidt cited that there was no way that the jury could ascertain that the video was shot just moments before the fatal fight and believed it carried no relevance in the proceedings. Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson stated otherwise, citing that the video gives “context” to the goings on on May 15. Swason claimed that this video showed that Lopez was “not a passerby” and that she was “not reasonable in her actions.” After some deliberation, Foley overruled Schimdt’s objection and stated the video was fine.
Jeremiah Brooks, 20 was the next witness for the prosecution to take the stand. Brooks shared that he had met up with friends after going to a store, as the group was coming back to Lincoln Avenue where he lived they were accosted by what he termed as an “advocate,” someone who was organizing the original fight. Brooks stated that he saw Lopez out amongst the crowd there and that after the fighters emptied their pockets of weapons and phones the fight took place. It was following the fight that a verbal altercation broke out between Lopez and Brown with Lopez “taking a swing” at Brown. Brooks, as well as his father both tried to hold Brown back, especially once they saw the knife, but were unable to do so. He also iterated that no police were called during this time.
The last witness of the day was Brown’s sister Doniesha Brown, 20. Doniesha stated that after picking her younger sister Jefrena up from school they stopped at a few stores before going their separate ways. However, Doniesha had a “bad feeling” and followed her sister to Lincoln Avenue where she came upon the first fight. There she saw her sister on the porch of a friend’s home, but it wasn’t long after that Jefrena made her way to the sidewalk and got into a screaming match with Lopez.
Doniesha allegedly called out to warn her sister of the knife, but the noise around her drowned her out.
It was at this point that the third video that was entered into evidence was played. In it the fight between Lopez and Jefrena Brown can be seen. It’s also at this time that Doniesha became upset by the events playing on the screen. Following a short recess Doniesha went on to say that after getting her sister to Brooks she went to retrieve family.
The trial will resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in Chautauqua County Court.