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A former Windsor resident who was a fugitive for 15 years was sentenced to six years in prison today for a 1996 slaying. Custodio Sandoval Lopez, 56, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter before the jury began deliberating at his murder trial last year, Chief Deputy District Attorney Spencer Brady said. Lopez fled Sonoma County after the stabbing murder of Daniel Benjamin Hernandez, 53, of Forestville at Lopez’s Windsor home on Nov. 3, 1996.
He was arrested in Lafayette, La. on March 9, 2011. Hernandez died of multiple stab wounds to his upper torso. Lopez’s family discovered the body in his home and called Windsor police. Brady said the prosecution’s theory is that Lopez killed Hernandez during a drug deal. Hernandez was a drug addict and he had cocaine and methadone in his system when he was killed, Brady said.
No drugs were found in Lopez’s home and there were no witnesses to the slaying, Brady said. The defense disputed Lopez killed Hernandez during a drug deal, Brady said.Lopez said he didn’t know Hernandez, who he found behaving bizarrely inside his house on the night of the slaying, Brady said.
Lopez claimed he killed Hernandez to protect his wife and children, but they were not home at the time of the slaying, Brady said. “There were many unresolved factual questions in the case,” Brady said regarding why a plea agreement was reached during the trial last year.
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