Norma Lopez murder trial: Suspect found guilty of murdering Moreno Valley teen

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- A 42-year-old man has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2010 slaying of Moreno Valley teenager Norma Lopez.

The verdict for Jesse Torres was announced on Wednesday afternoon. Torres faces a possible death sentence.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, who was the supervisor of the detective at the time of the murder, said he didn't go home for a week when Lopez went missing.

"Being a cop and being a dad, that's everyone's worst nightmare," he said. "For lack of better terms, this was a boogeyman case."

Lopez was walking home from summer school when she just disappeared. Her body was found five days in a field about three miles away.

"The entire city was on edge because a child was kidnapped and murdered, and we didn't have answers," Bianco said.

The prosecution says DNA on one of her earrings led them to the suspect, who lived near the route Lopez would take to walk home from school. The prosecution says Torres was "waiting, watching and lusting."

Riverside County D.A. Mike Hestrin says the governor's decision to place a moratorium on the death penalty won't make a difference in how this case proceeds.

"The governor's actions yesterday doesn't change the law," he said. "He can't unilaterally change the law."

In addition to convicting Torres of murder, jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of killing in the course of a kidnapping.

The trial will move to the penalty phase on Thursday, during which the jury will recommend a sentence of either death or life in prison without parole for Torres.
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