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Suspect in Norma Lopez slaying to appear in court

October 27, 2011 | 11:30 am

Norma Lopez family shrine
A Long Beach man accused of abducting and killing Moreno Valley high school student Norma Lopez last year is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Riverside on charges of murder and kidnapping.

Jesse Perez Torres, 35, faces one count of murder with special circumstance of kidnapping, a charge that could make him subject to the death penalty. But the Riverside County district attorney’s office hasn't decided whether to seek execution, said spokesman John Hall.

The district attorney’s office disclosed Tuesday that Torres owned an SUV that matched the description of a vehicle that a witness reporting seeing at the site of the kidnapping — a vacant lot near Valley View High School, where 17-year-old Lopez was attending summer school.

Lopez was abducted in broad daylight in July 2010 after a biology class as she walked across the lot, a popular shortcut among students.

Her body was found five days later. Investigators found some of Lopez's belongings, as well as signs of a struggle, in the lot. Torres' home was a block away.

Torres, who moved to Long Beach in August 2010, was arrested and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside a week ago. Monday evening he was released and immediately rearrested, giving prosecutors an additional 48 hours to review the case before filing charges.


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Photo: Martin Lopez, left, and Elizabeth Lopez, father and sister of Norma Lopez, are shown last week next to a makeshift shrine to the 17-year-old. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times