ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A man who took part in a high profile killing is about to get out of prison after just 10 years of his 42-year sentence.
There would have been three murders that day had two of his victims not been so strong, and as you can imagine the victims are not happy.
In 2006, Benito Lopez was 16 years old when he and his cousin, Michael Swick, beat and stabbed 61-year-old Rita and 68-year-old Carlos Atencio nearly to death in their Cuba home, in a home invasion-robbery plot. The couple was injured so badly, even they were shocked they survived.
“The scars on my body are testimony to the trauma I endured,” Rita Atencio said back in 2007. “A knife wound on my back, bruises on my breasts, on my upper right arm.”
Investigators say the pair then beat their friend, 18-year-old Alex Ogle, to death when he refused to take part in the crime.
“He was frozen to the ground, stabbed 17 times. His head bashed in with a rock,” Ogle’s sister, Charmaine Waites, said.
Lopez eventually pleaded guilty to robbing and beating the Atencios and testified against Swick, getting his murder charge dropped and getting leniency in the 42-year sentence he faced.
“I saw the evidence and the extreme violence, but it’s clear the prosecution of the case would have been difficult without you. That’s why I will suspend all but 15 years,” Judge Louis McDonald ruled back in 2007.
Now after serving nearly 11 years, earning a good time, Lopez has been granted parole.
Alex Ogle’s family is outraged.
“He gets a whole new life, my brother is still in the ground,” Charmaine Waites said. “I just think people need to know there is a murderer out on the loose with no remorse for anything he did.”
Swick is serving 62 years for the same crime. The family takes some comfort in that, but feels the system is broken.
“They’re giving people who in the state of New Mexico commit lesser crimes more time and this is ridiculous. Something needs to be done about the justice system, about murderers,” she said.
The Corrections Department expects to release Lopez in early February. He’ll then be on supervised probation for five years.
If he violates parole or probation, he could be sent back to prison to serve the rest of his 42-year sentence.