Mistrial declared for man accused of killing woman, kids

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of a man accused of killing a woman and her two young children inside his Des Moines home, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on Thursday.

After four days of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on two of three first-degree murder counts against 33-year-old Marvin Esquivel Lopez, the Des Moines Register reported.

Lopez is charged in the July 2019 shooting deaths of 29-year-old Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez and her two children — 11-year-old Grecia Daniela Alvarado-Flores and 5-year-old Ever Jose Mejia-Flores. The three had arrived in Iowa from Honduras about five months before their deaths and lived with Esquivel Lopez and his family.

Lopez’s wife testified that she saw him shoot Flores-Rodriguez twice in the head after the two had argued. Officers also found the children dead in the home’s basement with two gunshots each to the head.

Lopez, who is also known to federal immigration authorities as Marvin Escobar-Orellana, testified in his own defense at trial that Flores-Rodriguez had killed her own children and threatened to kill him before he shot her accidentally in a scuffle. Assistant Polk County Attorney Kevin Hathaway dismissed that claim, telling the jury, “He shot the woman twice in the head. Of course it wasn’t an accident.”

The jury on Wednesday told the judge that while it was able to reach a verdict as to Flores-Rodriguez’s killing, they remained “very far apart” on the counts related to the children.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said in a statement that his office will try the case again.