LOS ANGELES – A state appeals court panel Tuesday reversed a Lancaster man’s second-degree murder conviction for the shooting of an all-terrain vehicle enthusiast in the desert nearly five years ago.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered the case against Arturo Lopez to be sent back for retrial on the murder charge stemming from the 2014 slaying of Stephen Finson, 47, of Lancaster.
Finson was shot to death Feb. 23, 2014, while riding and taking pictures in the desert. He was found on the ground near his ATV in the 13300 block of East Avenue H, about eight hours after his wife reported him missing.
The appellate court justices found that the trial court had erroneously instructed jurors in Lopez’s trial on two theories of guilt — one which was legally correct and the other which was legally incorrect.
The panel also reversed Lopez’s conviction for offering false evidence, but upheld his conviction for one count of conspiracy to destroy evidence and three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Lopez was sentenced in August 2016 to 45 years to life in state prison for the killing.
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