Utah Supreme Court reverses murder conviction of man who claims wife killed herself

Utah Supreme Court reverses murder conviction (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) - The Utah Supreme Court has reversed the murder conviction of a man accused of killing his wife in December 2013.

The Court made the ruling Friday.

Komasquin Lopez is accused of killing his wife in a fit of rage in December 2013.

Lopez will now get a new jury trial.

The 45-year-old man maintained his innocence, saying that his wife was high on methamphetamine and killed herself that night.

According to a ruling from the court, which you can read below, the testimony of a clinical psychologist, Dr. Craig Bryan, who specializes in the treatment of suicides, was deemed inadmissible.

Dr. Bryan uses the Fluid Vulnerability Theory of Suicide (FVTS), which the state claimed to be "the most commonly used theory and approach to developing treatment and understanding suicide risks.” The theory is based on 'scientific evidence gained from clinical care of suicide patients as well as multidisciplinary scientific efforts internationally.'"

But the Court found the methods to be "ambiguous and harmful."

The Court's conclusion:

We conclude that Dr. Bryan’s expert testimony was inadmissible because the State did not demonstrate that it met a threshold of reliability as Utah Rule of Evidence 702 requires. And because Dr. Bryan offered significant testimony on the key dispute in a case where much of the other evidence was ambiguous, this error was harmful. Furthermore, the district court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of Lopez’s prior acts for the purpose of showing identity. This error was also harmful. Accordingly, we reverse Lopez’s conviction and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

KUTV received a statement from Lopez' attorney, Nick Falcone:

Komasquin Lopez convicted of shooting his wife in the head while driving his truck in Murray, we appealed. The Supreme Court found that the district court judge erred in letting a controversial witness a “Suicideoligist” testify about studies regarding suicide that were determined to be unreliable. The court also found the district attorney’s introduced improper character evidence which was allowed by the court. In the end the court reversed the conviction, which almost never happens and have set it back to the trial court for a new jury trial. This is very exciting news for all of us here, our client and has made some very good case law.


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