News Releases

November 9, 2015: Man Convicted of Killing Girlfriend in Compton in 2003

Sarah Ardalani, Public Information Officer
(213) 257-2000

A 53-year-old man was convicted today of strangling his live-in girlfriend in 2003 and leaving her body in their Compton apartment, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding defendant Juan Bravo Lopez (dob 4/11/62) guilty of first-degree murder in case TA070338.

Sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 1 in Department G of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Compton Branch. Lopez faces a possible maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.

Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez, who prosecuted the case, said at the time of the crime Lopez and victim Martha Higareda had been in a long-term relationship. The couple also shared two children.

On May 9, 2003, Lopez and Higareda had an argument, the prosecutor said. The next day, Lopez told the children their mother left for Mexico. The defendant ordered the children to pack up their belongings because they were going to meet Higareda, the prosecutor said. The defendant then borrowed a car from a family member and left the country, the prosecutor added.

Four days later, neighbors at the Compton apartment complained about an odor and asked the apartment manager to check Lopez and Higareda’s residence, the prosecutor said. The apartment manager entered the home and found Higareda’s body underneath a bunk bed with a belt around her neck, the prosecutor said. It was later determined the victim died by strangulation.

Lopez subsequently was charged with Higareda’s death on June 5, 2003 in a felony complaint for arrest warrant.

According to the prosecutor, U.S. law enforcement learned in 2010 of Lopez’s whereabouts in Mexico and in November 2014 the defendant was extradited to stand trial for Higareda’s killing.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.