Court Overturns Ex-Priest's Conviction
Calif. Appeals Court Overturns Ex-Priest's Molestation Conviction on Prosecutor's Comments
April 14, 2006
LOS ANGELES Apr 14, 2006 (AP)— A state appeals court has overturned a former Roman Catholic priest's conviction on charges of molesting three boys.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 on Thursday that misconduct occurred during Fernando Lopez's trial when the prosecutor expressed her personal opinions to jurors.
Lopez, a Colombian citizen, was found guilty in March 2005 of molesting the boys during a three-year period that began shortly after his transfer to Los Angeles from Rome in 2001.
The majority of the court panel wrote that the prosecutor made improper comments by saying in a rebuttal argument: "I don't think (the defense attorney) is mean or stupid. But I think his client is guilty."
The dissenting judge wrote that some of the attorney's comments were "inappropriate," but did not amount to misconduct and did not warrant a reversal.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said it would seek an appeal and a review with the state Supreme Court.
Lopez is serving a sentence of six years and eight months in prison. It was unclear whether he would be freed.
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