Trial date set in Capote wrongful death civil case | SteamboatToday.com

Trial date set in Capote wrongful death civil case

Eduardo Capote

— Eduardo Capote faces another trial date once he completes his three-year prison sentence related to the Jan. 1, 2009, fight in downtown Steamboat Springs that led to the death of Richard Lopez.

Nicholas Lopez, the son of Richard Lopez, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in December against Capote.

On Thursday, 14th Judicial District Court Judge Shelley Hill held a telephone conference with those involved in the lawsuit, and they decided to start the trial July 9, 2012.

Damages are not specified in the lawsuit.

"We haven't got to that point," said Zach McFarland, a Golden-based lawyer representing the Lopez family. "It's real early on in the litigation process."

Eduardo Capote and his brother David were charged in connection with the fight with Richard Lopez and his two companions. The defense and prosecution provided differing accounts of what happened, but the result was that after a blow from Eduardo Capote, Lopez fell to the asphalt and hit his head. He died Jan. 5, 2009, with the cause of death ruled as severe head and brain trauma.

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In February 2010, the Capote brothers were found not guilty of third-degree assault related to fighting with Lopez's friends, but jurors could not decide on the more serious charge of second-degree assault filed against Eduardo Capote relating to the fight with Lopez.

Rather than facing another jury, Capote pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison.

The Lopez family was seeking civil damages as the criminal cases went through the legal system, but an agreement was never reached. At the time, McFarland researched Eduardo Capote's homeowner's insurance policy and thought it had $300,000 of coverage that could be used to pay for economic and noneconomic damages.

On Tuesday, McFarland said the insurance company denied the claim and refused to provide Capote with a lawyer in the civil matter. Public defenders are not appointed in civil cases.

McFarland said Capote has not obtained his own lawyer, so he is representing himself. Capote called in to Thursday's hearing from the Rifle Correctional Center, where he is serving his sentence, McFarland said. The civil trial cannot take place until Capote is released.

According to the Colorado

Department of Corrections, Ca-

pote's prison term runs through Nov. 28, 2012. He is eligible for parole at the end of this month.

Nicholas Lopez was 16 when his father died, and his father had intended to help him pay for college, McFarland said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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