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Wednesday, Nov 20 2013 11:09 AM

Defendant receives life sentence for continuous torture of girlfriend

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Jose Martin Lopez glares at the media in court Nov. 4 during proceedings regarding the torture and abuse of his girlfriend.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Jose Martin Lopez tortured his girlfriend for more than a year, claiming he did it in the name of love.

He beat her often, and handcuffed her to their bed every night to make sure she didn't leave him. He broke her ribs and fractured her spine with a baseball bat. He pounded her toes with a hammer, splitting them open.

Finally, when it became apparent to him that he'd battered her so severely he couldn't get away with it, he gave her a choice: Which room did she want to die in?

Then he beat her some more before calling authorities, because he expected her to die.

The victim survived, although she'll bear her scars from Lopez for the rest of her life. Lopez, too, will have to deal with his actions for the rest of his life.

In sentencing Lopez to more than eight decades in prison, Judge John W. Lua said Wednesday that he'd never seen a case with such excruciating torture inflicted for so long. He sentenced Lopez to 45 years, 10 months in prison, to be followed by five consecutive life terms in which Lopez will have to serve a minimum of seven years before coming up for parole in each term.

It boils down to a minimum sentence of 80 years, 10 months. Lopez, 28, yawned several times as Lua pronounced sentence.

Prosecutor Tamara Tuivaiti said it was the worst case she'd ever encountered. She said Lopez showed no remorse, and even blamed the victim -- the mother of Lopez's three children -- for some of his actions. The children, whose ages range from 2 to 6, lived in the home and witnessed the abuse.

The victim continues to recover, Tuivaiti said. Lopez placed her in handcuffs so often and kept them so tight she contracted gangrene. There are bite scars on her body, and she'll have to wear a special glove for the rest of her life to keep the swelling down in one of her hands.

Deputy Public Defender Janice Kim could not be reached for comment after the 90-minute hearing.

Deputies arrested Lopez on Aug. 1, 2012, after responding to the girlfriend's apartment in the 600 block of Huskey Drive in Oildale. The girlfriend was unresponsive.

Prosecutors have said her injuries were so severe that the emergency room doctor thought she was dead on arrival. She's undergone numerous surgeries.

The victim's mother, Tammy McCants, told the court Wednesday her daughter is strong, with faith in God and more strength than the "monster" who put her in the hospital.

A jury convicted Lopez on Oct. 3 of 12 felonies, including six counts of torture, mayhem and false imprisonment with violence.

For someone who took obvious pleasure in dealing out pain, Lopez isn't able to handle much himself.

He complained during one of his court hearings.

He said his handcuffs were too tight.

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