Oct. 18—Following a delay of almost three years, a Longmont man accused of murdering his brother was finally deemed competent enough for his case to proceed.
Daniel Lopez, 31, is charged with first-degree murder and felony menacing in the death of his brother Thomas "TJ" Lopez outside of their Longmont home in September 2018. Lopez also is charged with aggravated animal cruelty.
The case had been at a standstill since November 2018, when Lopez, who police say suffers from schizophrenia, was evaluated twice and ultimately declared incompetent to proceed.
Lopez was transferred to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo for restoration efforts. In May, Lopez was finally deemed competent enough for the case to proceed, according to court documents.
He had a preliminary hearing and proof-evident presumption great hearing on Oct. 6, and on Oct. 7, and Boulder District Judge Bruce Langer issued a written ruling stating that prosecutors had met their burden of proof for the case to continue and for Lopez to remain in custody without bond.
Lopez is being held at the Boulder County Jail.
He is now set for an arraignment hearing on Jan. 11, at which time he could enter into a plea deal or have his case set for trial.
In a statement, the Boulder County District Attorney's Office said, "We look forward to moving ahead with this case."
First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
According to Longmont police, the brothers were arguing over their dog, which was stabbed earlier in the day.
A neighbor told police he went to the Lopez home on Sept. 24, 2018, to talk with Thomas Lopez and noticed blood splattered on the porch. Daniel Lopez answered the door and said his brother was not there, according to an arrest affidavit.
While walking away, the witness told police he heard Thomas Lopez scream and turned to see Daniel Lopez chasing him out of their home with a large "combat knife."
The witness told police Daniel Lopez stabbed his brother repeatedly while they ran and when they both fell, Daniel Lopez continued to stab his brother.
Two neighbors came out of their home and tried to stop him, and Daniel Lopez stood up and walked away from the scene after swinging the knife once at the witness who called police. Daniel Lopez was arrested shortly after police arrived near the scene, according to the affidavit.