ALLENTOWN, Pa. | Bemoaning the amount of gun violence in Allentown, a Lehigh County judge sentenced a 21-year-old city man to up to 40 years in prison for the shooting death of a woman during a July 2019 melee spurred by drug dealing.
Judge Douglas Reichley on Thursday sentenced Isaiah C. Lopez to 18 to 40 years in state prison for fatally shooting 33-year-old Lauren Gonzalez in the 400 block of North Church Street on July 12, 2019. Authorities initially charged Lopez with an open count of homicide; he pleaded guilty last month to third-degree murder.
His brother, Jasiah Lopez, pleaded guilty earlier this month for shooting Justin Trinidad, the victim’s boyfriend, during the same brawl.
Defense attorney James Katz told the court that he did not want to diminish Lopez’s role in the tragedy but reminded the judge that Gonzalez and her boyfriend were dealing drugs out of a house on the block. They confronted a group of people that night because they were interfering with their drug sales, the defense argued.
Lopez’s brother was slapped and hit in the head with a bottle, Katz told the court. He said the victim was the aggressor in this case, and that his client “panicked” after hearing someone say, “Get the gun, kill them all.”
“He’s certainly sorry for what happened,” Katz said. “He changed the victim’s and her family’s lives, and he changed his own family’s life.”
The defense asked the judge to consider a state prison term of 7½ to 20 years in prison, noting that Lopez turned himself in and cooperated with the investigation.
Lopez’s mother and father addressed the court, each telling the judge that their son regrets what happened and that he sorry for what he’s done.
“He’s a good kid, he just made a bad decision,” Lopez’s mother told the judge.
Lopez tearfully told the judge that he was ready to accept any sentence that he handed down
“I’m sorry to the Gonzalez family for what I did,” he said. “I made a horrible decision, and if I could take it back, I would.”
No one addressed the court on behalf of the victim.
But the judge said someone’s less than sterling character is not a defense for resorting to violence.
“That doesn’t justify what you did,” Reichley said.
There is too much gun violence in the city, and the community needs to know that there will be a certain level of punishment for such crimes, the judge said. People too often resort to using a gun to settle a situation, he said, and Lopez should have just walked away.
The sentence handed down Thursday still gives Lopez a chance at a fruitful life and a family life, one that the victim will not have, Reichley said.