During Closing Arguments Prosecution Points to ‘Toxic’ Relationship as Motive in 2014 Homicide

Thank you for reading D.C. Witness. Help us continue our mission into 2024.

Donate Now

On Nov. 13, parties delivered closing arguments in a trial for a 2014 homicide case in front of DC Superior Court Judge Michael O’Keefe.

Marvin Lopez, 43, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, for allegedly shooting 27-year-old Evelyn Arroyo on Dec. 24, 2014, on the 3900 block of 14th Street, NW. After the shooting, Lopez allegedly fled to El Salvador where he resided until early 2023. 

“Marvin Lopez swore that he would kill Yamileth Arroyo,” the prosecution said during their opening statement. The prosecutor reiterated that “Yamileth” is another name Arroyo was known by. The prosecutor argued that Lopez threatened Arroyo  in private text messages and in their residence while in front of their roommate. The prosecutor also spoke about how Lopez threatened Arroyo by saying specifically, “where it will start, it will end”, in reference to the restaurant where Lopez and Arroyo met, and where she was ultimately killed. 

Prosecutors  explained that Lopez’s and Arroyo’s relationship began in 2012, when Lopez pursued Arroyo at the restaurant where she worked.

According to prosecutors, their honeymoon phase ended in 2013, when the police were called to their residence for the first time in regards to a domestic violence situation, which resulted in Lopez being escorted out of their home. Then, the prosecutor referenced how the pair was on good terms again until October of 2014, when Lopez called the police and Arroyo was escorted out and issued a stay away order from Lopez. 

“Stay away orders can put abusers in more power”, the prosecutor said. She then emphasized that this incident was likely a result of defensive behavior by Arroyo, and that the stay away order placed by Lopez was another method he used to control her.

According to prosecutors, after the October 2014 incident, the pair separated, but Arroyo had not yet moved out of their apartment. Arroyo became romantically involved with someone new but was unable to retrieve her belongings, such as her car keys, because Lopez had taken them from her.

According to the prosecutor, Arroyo didn’t fully move out of their shared apartment until three weeks before her murder. After Arroyo officially moved out, Lopez posted a threatening photo on his Facebook page that read, “te amo”, covered in bullets. This photo was also captioned “you’re already happy with your new love”, along with Arroyo’s Facebook handle.

In response to this, the prosecutor said he posted this because “[Lopez] had lost control of her”. 

The prosecutor showed a variety of text messages from Lopez to Arroyo with threatening contents, including messages that said, “never in my life will I forgive you for this betrayal Yamileth, now you’ll know who I really am,“we’ll see each other soon, you’re going to die I swear it and we’ll see if your lover saves you.”

In regards to the day of the murder, the prosecutor showed evidence that Lopez had ripped up photos of him and Arroyo in a fit of rage, which were later found on his bed by their roommate. The prosecutor also said Lopez’s roommate testified that she saw Lopez leave in Arroyo’s car on the day of her murder.

The prosecutor then spoke about events and evidence after the murder had occurred. She said that Arroyo’s car had been recovered near the restaurant after the murder, which is the same car that Lopez had been spotted driving that day by his roommate. Additionally, Lopez was nowhere to be found after being thoroughly searched for in several different places. The reason he couldn’t be found, according to the prosecutor, is because he fled to El Salvador after having a “guilty conscience” for murdering Arroyo. The prosecutor emphasized that he only returned to the U.S after being found and extradited for this trial, but that he left all of his family and belongings behind, and didn’t ever tell anyone where he was going before he left. 

The defense then presented their closing arguments after the prosecutors. 

“Marvin Lopez is not guilty. The government had the responsibility to prove this case to you beyond a reasonable doubt, and they have failed,” Lopez’s defense attorney, Rachel McCoy, said. McCoy argued that from the beginning of the case, both the police and the prosecution had “tunnel vision” on Lopez as the suspect and did not investigate other possibilities. According to McCoy,  using Lopez as a suspect “fit their narrative”, and from that point on he was the only person police and prosecutors suspected of killing Arroyo. 

McCoy firmly stated that the defense’s position is that Lopez had already been in El Salvador at the time of the murder, reiterating that they would have found his personal documents such as a form of identification or a valid passport in his apartment if he hadn’t yet left for El Salvador at the time of the murder.

Additionally, Lopez had allegedly taken Arroyo’s phone and keys in the days leading up to the murder. The prosecution had been referencing this through the trial, saying that Arroyo had no way to communicate.

However, McCoy argued that Arroyo had two phones with her at the time of her death, contrary to the prosecution’s claim. The two phones were never shown by prosecutors in open court, and when shown by McCoy, they were in a plastic bag with no visible evidence markings. 

“There is not a shred of physical evidence that puts [Lopez] on the scene that day,” McCoy said. “No investigation into physical evidence is a reasonable doubt!.”

She also noted that a bloodhound had been on the scene as well, and was given an item of Lopez’s scent and then attempted to locate him, but the dog failed to find Lopez’s scent anywhere near the scene. 

McCoy also noted that a witness had testified seeing Lopez fleeing the scene with a gun in his left hand, but exclaimed “[Lopez] has been sitting here this whole time writing with his right hand”. 

According to McCoy, the prosecution used the toxic relationship between the suspect and the victim to prove that Lopez shot her. “Just because there was a toxic relationship does not mean that you can make the jump to say that he killed her,” McCoy said. 

During their rebuttal, the prosecution said there was no information to connect this crime to a gang. 

“The evidence in this case all points to [Lopez],” the prosecutor said, referencing his threatening messages and fleeing to another country. Lopez “told on himself,” the prosecutor continued.  

The jury began deliberations, which are expected to last for several days.

Notifications are not yet available for this specific case. Please check back later for updates. Thank you.