After a three-hour deliberation, a Stanislaus County Superior Court jury on Aug. 16 found 43-year-old Ceres resident Arturo Vega Lopez guilty of attempted murder along with an enhancement for premeditation and deliberation and other felonies.
Lopez is currently in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail without bail. He will return to court on Oct. 26 for sentencing. He faces a potential punishment of life in prison.
Lopez shot an associate on Feb. 1, 2021 at a commercial complex near the Seventh Street Bridge in south Modesto. Lopez had called Brandon Freitas, and lured him to meet at the location on the premise that Lopez would pay him for some prior automotive repair work. Freitas’ fiancée drove him to the location. Lopez arrived and Freitas got out of his fiancée’s car and approached the passenger side of Lopez’s car. When Freitas leaned into collect the money he was owed, Lopez shot him in the chest. The bullet caused a non-fatal through and through wound and embedded in the passenger door panel.
Freitas retreated to his fiancée’s car screaming, “Babe, he shot me.” She immediately put her car into reverse and rammed Lopez’s car in order to prevent him from firing more shots. She then drove Freitas to the hospital and called 911.
Lopez fled the scene and called 911 as well, claiming to be the victim of a hit-and-run by several subjects in a green SUV. Deputies determined the two calls were related but that Lopez was the suspect.
After a search warrant was obtained for Lopez’s vehicle, deputies found a portable gun safe under his driver’s seat, a single shell casing in the backseat, a bullet hole in the passenger door panel, a bullet in the passenger door, the victim’s cell phone and a license plate from the victim’s vehicle.
Lopez, who had previously been convicted of attempted murder in Stanislaus County in 2002, was arrested and charged with premeditated attempted murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition as well as an enhancement for causing great bodily injury during the crime.
Judge Carrie Stephens presided over a two-week jury trial during which Freitas testified how he and Lopez had been involved in a physical fight weeks prior to the shooting. He said Lopez lured him to the location with promises of paying him for some previous mechanical work he had done on Lopez’s car. Deputies testified about the search of Lopez’s vehicle and the incriminating items they recovered.
Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Lee prosecuted the case.