A jury convicted a man Thursday of killing a prostitute whose bruised and bloodied body was found in a car.
Jurors deliberated about three hours before finding Fulgencio Lopez, 22, of Oklahoma City, guilty of first-degree murder in the March 6, 2011, slaying of Lori A. Green, 39, of Oklahoma City.
The panel recommended life in prison for Lopez, who will be sentenced Sept. 5 by Oklahoma County District Judge Donald L. Deason.
Investigators found Green's body in the front seat of a blue sedan about 3:05 a.m. in the 400 block of SW Grand Boulevard.
The victim had bruising and blood on her face and abrasions on both sides of her neck consistent with strangulation, a doctor testified. Green died of blunt force injuries to her head and neck, the doctor said.
Prosecutors, in their closing arguments, said Lopez choked and beat Green to death before having sex with her lifeless body.
“She made some bad decisions in life, but she didn't deserve to die the way she did,” Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Harmon said.
Prosecutors declined to comment following the verdict.
Police found Lopez lying on the ground nearby in a fetal position without any pants, which the girl's boyfriend testified taking to keep him from leaving.
Anthony J. Wade told the jury Lopez had ignored his commands to get off the unresponsive woman and unlock the car, which was parked in an alley behind a house in southwest Oklahoma City.
Wade, a 41-year-old felon facing forgery charges in two counties, said Lopez was still trying to have sex with the woman.
Wade said after breaking out two windows with a broom handle, he punched Lopez, pulled him out of the car by his feet and kicked him several times before leaving the scene because of his outstanding warrants.
Lopez, a roofer who speaks little English, testified through an interpreter he was attacked by four men, including Wade, and beaten unconscious as he sat in the car with Green.
The decision to take the stand proved costly for Lopez, his attorney said.
“He obviously did not do a very good job of communicating what happened and the jury obviously didn't believe his story,” attorney Michael McBride said.
McBride suggested Wade and the others may have tried to rob Lopez, and accused Wade, also known as “Big Mike,” of beating the woman to death because he was mad she was “turning one last trick.”
Jimmy A. Palmer, an associate of the couple, testified to smoking crack cocaine with Green and Wade all day before she was killed. He said when they ran out of drugs after midnight he drove Green to a bar at SW 34 and S Robinson, where she met Lopez for sex.
Green and Lopez drove off and were later spotted by Palmer in an alley behind a house occupied by Wade and another man. Wade testified going outside to check on his girlfriend when she stopped returning text messages.
Prosecutors told the panel Wade and Palmer — who testified kicking Lopez after Wade removed him from the car — had no motive for killing Green because she was earning money to supply them with drugs.