Man convicted of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter given 15 years to life

A Littlerock man convicted of slamming into the back of a parked car on the shoulder of Highway 14 in 2017, killing the occupant, was sentenced Thursday to 15 years to life in prison.

Joe Lopez, 28, was charged with vehicular manslaughter. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison, according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Lopez had originally entered a plea of not guilty to one count of murder and a count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. A jury convicted him on both counts on Dec. 19.

Lopez was accused of causing the death of Sam H. Edinburgh, 62, of Palmdale, in a traffic collision Aug. 13, 2017.

He was driving a 2004 Toyota Matrix northbound on Highway 14, north of Soledad Canyon Road, where he started approaching a Toyota Corolla, according to investigators with the California Highway Patrol.

Lopez’ car drifted into the right shoulder, and the front of the car collided with the Corolla, according to investigators.

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