FRESNO, Calif. (TCD) -- A 42-year-old mother was arrested Friday for allegedly using settlement money from her son’s death to traffic guns, one of which was reportedly linked to the death of a Malaga man on July 9, 2021.
According to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Christina Lopez of Madera is one of 14 people arrested in connection with 52-year-old Javier Fernandez’s death. She faces felony charges of conspiracy to provide firearms to a minor for the benefit of a street gang, child endangerment, and conspiracy to provide a firearm to a gang member.
Those arrested also included teenagers as young as 13 and 14 years old. The man suspected of killing Fernandez is 18-year-old Richard Aguilar, and he was taken into custody after a SWAT standoff.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said two other people were charged. Jesse Aguilar (no relation to Richard) and Juan Venegas were charged with conspiracy to commit murder for the benefit of a Calwa street gang between Sept. 25 and Oct. 3, 2021. Aguilar was reportedly already in Salinas Valley State Prison serving a life sentence at the time of the alleged offense.
The Fresno Bee reports Lopez and her husband received a $4.9 million settlement in April for her son Isiah Murrietta-Golding’s death. Murrietta-Golding, who was reportedly wanted for questioning regarding a homicide, was shot by a Fresno Police sergeant in the back of the head as he was running away.
"She bought guns and gave them to that son to distribute to gang members. She has been providing guns through a financial means that she has, to minor children that are 14, 15, and 16 years old," Smittcamp reports.
According to Smittcamp, Lopez "has continued now to take the money from her settlement that she received from the City of Fresno to buy and purchase a home where she lives, in addition to spending thousands of dollars on guns that she then, in turn, has given to her 14-year-old son."
She continued, "And I didn’t misspeak — 14-year-old son, who is distributing them, sharing them, and selling them with other gang members in the community."
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said Fernandez was shot to death near his home in Malaga, and detectives identified a silver Honda CRV as the suspects' vehicle. That stolen Honda was later discovered burned near Jensen and Cedar Avenues, Sheriff Mims reports, adding that surveillance captured four people fleeing the scene. That captured image was reportedly released to Valley Crime Stoppers, and one led to a house near Bond and Belmont where Richard Aguilar lived.
Throughout the three-month investigation, search warrants were reportedly served at 14 locations. Fourteen arrests were made, and 12 firearms were seized, Sheriff Margaret Mims said.
Christina Lopez is currently being held in jail and makes her first court appearance on Tuesday. Smittcamp says Lopez could face approximately 10 years in state prison.