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James Crawford in the Orange County Register

Petition seeks to overturn verdict
CRIME: George Arnulfo Lopez was convicted of robbery but witnesses say
they doubt he was present.


A petition filed Thursday asks the 4th District Court of Appeal to free a Garden Grove man convicted of armed robbery because witnesses now say he didn't do it.

George Arnulfo Lopez, 18, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the May 17, 1999, robbery of Commercial Credit Corp. of Anaheim.
Lawyers appealed Lopez's conviction Thursday and sought a writ of habeas corpus -- a legal challenge to a jail detention.
Authorities said Lopez helped rob the business armed with a sawed-off shotgun.

But Hector Patino, an employee who identified him, says he now has doubts.
"I could not in good faith be 100 percent sure that ...
(Lopez) was present at the crime scene," he's quoted as saying.
Two other employees, Dora Guaderramacq and Marissacq Leon, said they're certain Lopez wasn't one of the robbers, the petition says.
"I can firmly attest to this young man not being the guilty party," the petition quotes Leon as saying.

Guaderrama and Leon also expressed doubts about Lopez's guilt after testifying, the petition says. But Lopez's lawyer at the time chose not to recall them to the stand.

Lopez was arrested four days after the crime when police found a shotgun matching the crime gun in a car in which he had been a passenger.
One man in the car later pleaded guilty to three other robberies, said James Crawford, one of Lopez's attorneys.
A spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney's Office declined to comment because the case is under appeal.

At a hearing today, Lopez's lawyers will seek to unseal the names and addresses of the jurors, Crawford said. That's because the defense wants to talk to them about possible jury misconduct.
One juror allegedly said after the trial that he knew Lopez was guilty from the beginning, Crawford said. +Call: (714) 796-7734

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