Timothy Lopez, charged in the Nov. 26 shooting death of Derick Velarde, was released on ankle monitoring Feb. 4, following a Feb. 3 dangerousness hearing before First Judicial District Court Judge Jason Lidyard. Lidyard said the state did not meet its obligation to prove Lopez was a danger to the community and that the incident was focused on one person.
Assistant District Attorney Brittany Davila is prosecuting the case and made the argument to keep Lopez incarcerated at the Rio Arriba County Adult Detention Center, where Lopez has been since the shooting. She called three witnesses, all New Mexico State Police officers.
Agent Daniel Martinez testified that through statements he learned Jimmy Campbell rode with Derick Velarde to La Tiendita Nov. 26 and described Lopez, the man who allegedly shot Velarde.
He said Campbell described to him and Agent Jessie Wittaker that Lopez went up to Velarde’s door and banged on the driver’s window with a black gun. Campbell told Martinez that Lopez then opened the door and pointed the gun at both of them.
Campbell heard a shot and ran into the store. Lopez entered the store right behind him, stripped his .45 semi automatic and confessed to shooting Velarde.
Martinez said he interviewed Joe Anthony Herrera, who works for Lopez. Herrera told Martinez that he and Lopez labeled some bottles of wine to deliver (to La Tiendita). They were in a black Volkswagen. As they pulled in, Herrera drove behind Velarde’s pickup.
“Lopez jumped out while the VW was still rolling,” Martinez testified. He then recounted a similar chain of events as Campbell.
Martinez did not interview Lopez. Lopez asked to write a statement. In it he wrote he went to Velarde’s window and told him to get out and handle this like a man.
He wrote Velarde broke out his own window to attack him. He saw Jimmy Campbell holding a .38 pistol, pointed at him. Velarde had a knife and lunged at him so he had to take a step back. Velarde put his hand on Lopez’s gun hand, causing the gun to go off.
Davila asked Martinez to clarify the statement.
“Are you saying Lopez said Jimmy Campbell had a gun?” Davila asked.
“Mr. Lopez said that but no weapons were on Mr. Campbell’s person or inside Mr. Velarde’s vehicle,” Martinez said.
Lopez wrote in his statement he ran in the store to call 911 and then went to render aid to Velarde.
“While he was rendering aid Velarde said, ‘Te voy a matar,’ (I’m going to kill you) and he (Lopez) took the knife from Derick Velarde,” Martinez said.
Lopez is represented by Mike Jones. He focused on the gun(s) on the scene.
“When he (Lopez) was interviewed at the scene, there was (sic) no firearms on his person or Mr. Velarde’s vehicle,” Jones said.
Jones asked if the area was searched for a firearm and Martinez said he did not go to the scene but interviewed Lopez at State Police District 7 in Española.
Jones pushed the issue of searching for another gun but Martinez again said he was not there and search warrants were drafted for the store and vehicle but Agent Shane Faulkner drafted the warrants.
Jones then turned to Lopez’s alleged injury. He asked if Martinez saw an injury on Lopez’s hand and Martinez said he didn’t recall.
“Did you ask if he was injured?” Jones said
“He (Lopez) only stated he wanted to make a statement so no questions were asked,” Martinez said.
Lidyard asked about the interaction between the two being captured on surveillance, to which Martinez said yes.
State Police Officer Mario Herrera reported finding Velarde in the truck, slumped over, gunshot to the left side of his face. He also said Jimmy Campbell had no weapons and Herrera placed him into his unit.
Jones asked if he looked for firearms and Herrera said around and inside the truck were searched.
Lidyard asked about the location of the broken glass.
Herrera said it was inside and outside the truck “on the floor.”
Lidyard asked if by on the floor he meant outside the truck on the ground and Herrera confirmed most of the glass was on the ground outside the truck.
Agent Jessie Whittaker testified to identifying Velarde and collecting surveillance for review.
While reviewing the recording he said he spoke with La Tiendita owner Amos Ulibarri, who told him both Lopez and Velarde were regulars and he was well-aware of their past conflict. Lopez’s girlfriend Lyndsey Horcasitas, who died Dec. 9, alleged Velarde had raped her over the summer 2020. Agent Cruzita Romero discusses the lack of evidence in that case with Horcasitas in two State Police videos from immediately after the Velarde shooting.
Whittaker accurately described the video showing the shooting:
“Velarde’s pickup pulls up, Jimmy gets out, walks inside, one minute later Velarde starts to pump gas, a black sedan comes in and parks across from his truck, Lopez (actually Herrera) parks between him (Velarde) and the station, Jimmy comes out, Lopez walks to the vehicle, goes to drivers side and Velarde has gotten back in vehicle, there’s a very brief altercation at window, Lopez throws his hands up either hitting the window or recoil from the gun firing, Jimmy comes back and Lopez ushers him back in the store,” Whittaker said.
Lidyard asked why the recording was not entered into evidence and Davila said she was having trouble accessing it. It is a specific software that does not open with normal, mainstream video software.
Lidyard instructed Whittaker to upload the video to the presentation on the Google Meet platform and the recording was viewed and then discussed.
Timothy Lopez’s father Alex Lopez spoke of Timothy’s military service, multiple degrees and work ethic, starting and operating Wicked Kreation Winery.
Davila’s argument focused on the seriousness of the crime.
“The very nature of the crime, it’s very serious to shoot someone in the head, in broad daylight,” she said.
Davila also said there are holes in the defendant’s statement.
“He saw Jimmy Campbell with a firearm and pointed at him, however, surveillance at no point did we see Campbell with firearm,” she said. “There is a very short period of time where Timothy Lopez walks up to the drive-side door and Jimmy Campbell exits mere seconds later.”
Additionally she argued Officer Herrera found only Timothy Lopez’s firearm at the scene.
“(Agent) Whittaker spoke about the alleged rape and La Tiendita owner Amos Ulibarri said altercations had occurred prior to this incident,” Davila said. “That goes to motive.”
Jones stuck with self defense and leaned on Timothy Lopez’s reputation.
“We’ve heard that there is potentially self defense.” Jones said. “When Mr. Velarde grabbed Mr. Lopez’s hand, the gun went off. There is a statement out there to that affect.”
He acknowledged there may have been friction between Velarde and Lopez.
“But it’s not with everyone out there,” Jones said.
He also questioned the first degree murder charge.
“This could go all the way down to an involuntary manslaughter,” he said.
He then spoke of Lopez’s background.
“He has a Q clearance and top secret above that at the Lab,” Jones said. “He’s been continuously employed. He has a master’s degree and several bachelor’s. Mr. Lopez started this company.”
He also said it was an accidental interaction, without intent.
“He was there to deliver wine,” Jones said. “Joe Herrera testified Mr. Lopez always carries a gun.”
Jones also said he didn’t believe anyone in the community was at danger.
“This is not a person who is going to run away,” he said “He stayed there (at the scene). It was accidental. When police showed up he was cooperative, went to the station and made a voluntary statement.”
Lidyard said the state failed to prove Lopez presents a danger to the community.
“This was a chance encounter where Mr. Lopez was coming to the location as performance for his work,” the judge said. “It was not planned or scheduled.”
He repeated that testimony was given Lopez always carries a firearm.
“It was not specific on this date,” he said. “It was also indicated only one shot fired, not multiple and it occurred after an altercation between Lopez and Velarde.”
Lidyard also questioned the charge.
“There is no intention for premeditation required by first degree homicide,” he said.
Lidyard also repeated several of Jones’ arguments regarding staying at the scene, the alleged sexual assault of Lopez’s girlfriend and that the incident was focused on Velarde alone.
“The court will place Mr. Lopez on house arrest through electronic monitoring,” Lidyard said. “He may move around the house and property where he conducts business.”
Lopez must meet all electronic monitoring standards such as random urinalysis, relinquish all firearms and no drinking of alcohol.
He also may not speak to any witnesses, which becomes a challenge as Joe Anthony Herrera is an employee.
“They may talk about business interests but shall not discuss the case,” Lidyard said.