Anaheim mother says DUI suspect accused of killing her daughter, husband doesn't deserve plea deal

Jessica De Nova Image
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
OC mom says suspect in deadly DUI crash doesn't deserve plea deal
An Anaheim mother says she's worried a possible plea deal for the man accused of killing her daughter and husband in a DUI crash may end up in the suspect serving less time behind bars.

ANAHEIM, Calif (KABC) -- An Orange County mother continues to mourn after her daughter and husband were killed in a car crash last year.

The DUI suspect who police said crashed into them was arrested, but now there may be a plea deal in the works.

Erika Lopez said she's worried the possible plea deal may end up in the suspect serving less time behind bars.

Holding her baby Estrellita, Lopez said her youngest child carries in her a little of her late first daughter and her husband. Lopez said her surviving baby and son were what kept her going after an unimaginable loss in January 2023.

The then pregnant Anaheim mother was among the survivors of a wreck that claimed three lives - Lopez's 10-year-old daughter Lucero, her husband Alberto and a church friend. Lopez's sister-in-law was left disabled.

The group was on its way home after bible study from Nueva Vida Church in Placentia, when police said a suspected drunk driver slammed his car into their van.

Speaking in Spanish, Lopez said she was unable to look forward to the next day, admitting having thoughts of taking her own life.

After pushing through the darkness, there was more heartache.

Lopez told Eyewitness News the DUI suspect, Mario Armando Paz Jr., may get a plea deal.

Lopez said though he was imprisoned, he's still alive and gets the chance to eat and speak with friends in jail.

"I don't see my daughter. I don't speak with my daughter. I don't see my husband," Lopez said in Spanish. "My baby doesn't know the caress of her father."

Gabriel Jenson, an assistant attorney with the law firm representing the victims in the civil case, said getting compensation for them is a challenge in California.

"Organizations such as the church, for example, and businesses often carry minimal insurance limits and policies and where we're at right now, there's about $130,000 to divide between 10 to 13 claimants," Jenson said.

To this mother and widowed wife, justice is life behind bars for the now 25-year-old DUI suspect.

Lopez said she has had a hard time finding employment and making ends meet for herself and her children. She told Eyewitness News she finally found work three weeks ago. Anyone wanting to help Lopez and her children can donate here to their GoFundMe page.