After nearly five hours of deliberations, a jury found Clarksburg City Councilman Sam "Zeke" Lopez guilty of domestic assault. Lopez was originally charged with domestic battery. Domestic assault is a lesser charge than battery.
Magistrate Tammy Marple sentenced Lopez to a thirty day suspended sentence and one year of probation, in addition, Lopez is required to report to the Harrison County Day Report Center. Lopez is also ordered to pay $160.25 in court costs, plus an additional jury fee that has not yet been determined.
Jurors heard defense testimony Wednesday from five people, including former Clarksburg Police Chief Marshall Goff, Zeke Lopez himself, two friends of the Lopez's, and Linda Lopez's daughter.
Goff testified that he sent former Clarksburg Police Lt. Tim Smith to the scene after receiving a call from Lopez on the night of April 2, 2013 following an argument at the Lopez home on Magnolia Avenue in Clarksburg. Goff said he asked Smith to give him feedback after arriving at the scene. Goff maintains that Lopez didn't ask for special treatment and didn't receive it, either. "I didn't get involved in the investigation, Goff testified, "the Harrison County Prosecutor told us to get a complete report and bring it to him for review." Goff went on to say, " I was impartial. If I wanted to influence anything, I surely would have left my house that night."
Goff summarized that his abrupt departure from the department happened after he approached the Federal Bureau of Investigations following rumors that were circulating that he had mishandled the Lopez domestic case. Goff said he approached the FBI because it alleged he and Smith were trying to cover up the case. Goff attributed issues with the case to "over aggressive officers" who responded to the scene. Goff said FBI investigators told him they had enough incriminating information to charge him federally and suggested that he resign or retire in order to avoid charges. Goff said that he felt deceived, as he had trusted the FBI. "I would never compromise my department or myself for Mr. Lopez or anyone else," Goff testified.
Jurors heard from three people who are close to the Lopez's, including William and Shelia Phillips of Clarksburg and Linda Lopez's daughter. They each testified that they had dinner with the Lopez's at the Elks Club on April 2. They each said William Phillips forgot his phone at dinner and returned to the club to get it, only to learn that the Lopez's had it. The couple drove to the Lopez's home, somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes after leaving the club. They testified that Zeke wasn't home and that Linda was there alone. It was believed that the Phillips' arrived after the Lopez's dispute, although Clarksburg police officers testified Tuesday that they were at the scene for roughly an hour following Linda's initial call to 911.
During his turn on the stand, Lopez denied ever hitting Linda and attributed the couple's disagreement to Linda's beer and prescription medication cocktail. Lopez said the responding officers intimidated Linda and denied accusations that he has a bad temper. "We argue like everybody else", Zeke added.