ROCKVILLE, Md. — A man convicted of killing his estranged wife and fatally beating her 11-year-old son with a baseball bat, then fleeing with the woman’s car to North Carolina, was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of life in prison without parole Monday.
Curtis M. Lopez said, “I am sorry for your loss” to his estranged wife’s family before learning his fate in Montgomery County Circuit Court, where a judge called the crimes “monstrous.”
Prosecutors say Lopez killed Jane McQuain, the estranged wife he wed while in prison, by striking her in the head with a 30-pound dumbbell and stabbing her with a kitchen knife. Later, after picking up her son William from a friend’s house, he drove him into the woods and beat him to death with an aluminum baseball bat. The boy’s body was found after a massive police manhunt.
Lopez was arrested at a hotel in Charlotte the day that Jane McQuain’s body was discovered inside her Germantown apartment. Prosecutors say Lopez had driven McQuain’s car, along with other of her personal items, down to North Carolina after telling his girlfriend that he planned to return from Maryland with a new vehicle and that it would be hers. Neighbors reported seeing Lopez load large boxes from McQuain’s apartment into her car.
Though the couple never lived together and had grown estranged, prosecutors say Lopez had recently re-emerged in McQuain’s life. Prosecutors say Lopez was driven by greed when he killed McQuain, an administrative assistant at an accounting firm, and killed his stepson in an apparent bid to cover his tracks.
Lopez entered an Alford plea to the murders in January, meaning he did not admit guilt but acknowledged that there was enough evidence for a conviction. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for Lopez, an ex-convict who spent more than a decade in prison in Pennsylvania for attempted murder, choosing instead to recommend a sentence of life without parole.
Though Maryland lawmakers recently abolished the death penalty, Lopez would make “a prime candidate for such a horrific crime,” said Deputy State’s Attorney John Maloney.
“He has murder in his heart, and murder in his DNA,” Maloney told the judge in asking for two sentences of life without parole.
Prosecutors say Lopez knew he would kill the McQuains even before he arrived at their Germantown apartment in late September 2011.
He traveled from North Carolina with the dumbbells he would eventually use to kill McQuain, and once at their home, began making arrangements to sell off their TV and other items. He took pictures of her new Honda and sent the images to his girlfriend, promising to deliver the vehicle to her when he returned to Charlotte — which he did.
“This is a guy who can kill and go back and have a beautiful reunion with blood on his clothes and think nothing of it,” Maloney said.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 1, 2011, Lopez fatally struck McQuain with 30-pound dumbbells as she slept and stabbed her with a butcher knife through three comforters, said another prosecutor, Danielle Sartwell.
Lopez picked up William from a friend’s house under the guise of taking him to a football game. Instead, he drove him around for hours — including to a storage facility — looking for a place to kill the child and leave his body so that he could buy himself some time, prosecutors said. He took him into the woods and struck him in the head with an aluminum bat, shattering his skull in 36 pieces.
From there, he drove onto North Carolina, still wearing his blood-stained pants and sending text messages from Jane McQuain’s cellphone pretending to be her.
Lopez’s defense lawyers asked that he be given an opportunity for parole because his plea averted what would have been a long and emotionally-wrenching trial. The sentencing itself was emotional as McQuain’s co-workers, friends and relatives took turns tearfully describing her as a devoted mother.
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