Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in Jessup killing

Phil Davis
Contact Reporterpdavis@capgaznews.com

An Annapolis man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the June stabbing death of another man in Jessup as prosecutors say he used a screwdriver after he was attacked in his car.

Santos Abel Diaz-Lemus, 31, had faced charges of first- and second-degree murder after Fredy Roberto Lopez-Martinez died from head injuries sustained in an attack June 17.

Police said Diaz-Lemus “struck (Lopez-Martinez) in the upper body with an object,” which led to his death more than a week later.

Diaz-Lemus was found by U.S. marshals in Texas the next month and was extradited to Anne Arundel County.

However, the State’s Attorney’s Office says Lopez-Martinez assaulted Diaz-Lemus first and that, while Lopez-Martinez struck first, Diaz-Lemus used an “unreasonable amount of force” in response.

The office said in a statement that police found the two were drinking earlier in the day at Lopez-Martinez’s home in Columbia when Diaz-Lemus said he needed to leave to pick up groceries.

Lopez-Martinez became upset Diaz-Lemus needed to leave, but the office said he left without incident.

The office said Lopez-Martinez and a companion drove to a co-worker’s home to continue drinking and found Diaz-Lemus’ car in the driveway.

“(Lopez-Martinez) became enraged and parked his car behind (Diaz-Lemus), obstructing (his) ability to leave,” the office wrote.

He then waited for Diaz-Lemus to walk to his car, at which point the office said he assaulted him, “striking (Diaz-Lemus) with his fists.”

Diaz-Lemus got out of the vehicle armed with a screwdriver, the office said, and stabbed Lopez-Martinez three times, once above the left eye. Lopez-Martinez was found unconscious hours later by police and taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced brain dead June 27.

State’s Attorney spokeswoman Emily Morse said the charges were reduced to manslaughter largely because Lopez-Martinez instigated the confrontation between the two.

Diaz-Lemus’ attorney, Michele Vignola, declined to comment, citing the upcoming sentence hearing Dec. 14.

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