General Crime

* After more than 40 years, James Terry Mason was charged with murder in Monterey County

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After more than 40 years, murder charges have been filed for the 1969 shooting death of a Seaside teenager in what may be the oldest cold case ever prosecuted in Monterey County, District Attorney Dean D. Flippo and Seaside police Chief Anthony J. Sollecito announced on Tuesday. The homicide of Christopher Lopes had gone unsolved for nearly four decades before Detective Borges of the Seaside Police Department received information in 2007 that caused him to reinvigorate an investigation of the shooting, the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Borges began digging into the department’s archives and learned more about the demise of 19-year-old Lopes, a varsity basketball player and team captain who attended Seaside High School before his death on December 21, 1969, the statement said. On that night, Lopes and about 40 other people went to a party at the Del Monte Manor apartments located at 1418 Yosemite St. in Seaside, the statement said. A “melee” broke out at the party, and ended abruptly when
Lopes was fatally shot, the statement said. The case went unsolved and eventually ran cold, leaving Lopes’ family in an agonizing limbo as they waited for justice in the teenager’s murder, according to the statement. Borges worked on the case for years after reopening it in 2007, but hit many dead-ends, the statement said. Earlier this year, the Monterey County Cold Case Project joined Borges in trying to solve the murder, the statement said. The Cold Case Project is a team consisting of local police detectives, an assistant district attorney, and a forensic technician from the Department of Justice that revives and investigates unsolved crimes on the Monterey Peninsula, the statement said. As the renewed investigation proceeded, an eyewitness from the night of the murder came forward and provided an account of who committed the crime to Borges, the statement said. The information eventually led Borges to Cedar Hill, Texas, where a man named James Terry Mason was arrested on Oct. 7 for the murder of Lopes, the statement said. Mason waived extradition from Texas and will be arraigned immediately upon his return to Monterey County, the statement said. In addition to being nearly 41 years old, the fact that the prosecution does not have DNA evidence to support them makes Lopes’ murder a unique case, the statement said. Because so many people attended the party on the night Lopes died, investigators are hopeful that more eyewitnesses will come forward with information that will help lead to a conviction in the case, the statement
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