Marion Loope speaks with her attorney Thursday during her jury trial at the Los Alamos Justice Center. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Marion Loope, 35, of Los Alamos faces sentencing before First Judicial District Judge Jason C. Lidyard Wednesday afternoon on a charge of battery against a household member. A jury found Loope guilty of the charge Thursday evening but found her not guilty of a second more serious charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon against a household member.
Jury selection was held Tuesday morning and the trial ran from 8:30 a.m. Wednesday until close to 6 p.m. Jurors deliberated until shortly after 9 p.m. before reaching their verdicts on the two charges. The Court heard from three witnesses – Loope’s mother Joann Temple who was the victim in the case, Los Alamos Police Cpl. Jaime Gonzales, LAPD Det. Matt Lyon and Loope herself.
Temple and Loope both testified about a lengthy argument between them early on the morning of April 15 which ended when Temple left the home and called LAPD from a street nearby. The two versions of what transpired at the home were very different. Temple alleged that Loope at one point threw a cup of coffee at her however Loope later testified that it was Temple who threw the coffee. Temple also testified that Loope tried to strangle her, grabbed her glasses and started beating her head against a door frame. Temple said and that at one point Loope grabbed a steak knife and held it against Temple’s throat from behind.
Temple testified that she had slapped Loope in the face during the incident and that she had thrown a detergent bottle at Loope while she was in the bathtub.
Corporal Gonzales’s report indicated that when she found Temple sitting in her car, she had a lump on the back of her head, marks on her neck and a cut in the webbing between her thumb and index finger which she said happened when she reached up to grab the knife to remove it from her neck. Gonzales said when he arrived at the residence, he asked Loope if she had any injuries and that she had told him she did not. Gonzales said Loope told him she was not going to jail for what her mother did.
Gonzales testified that Loope told him she did not remember getting the knife and if she did, she didn’t get it to hurt her mother. He testified that he entered the home with Temple to locate the knife, that Temple couldn’t remember the size of the knife and that they had looked in a drawer containing several knives but Temple had not identified a particular knife as the one allegedly used against her.
Detective Lyon said when he arrived on the scent after Loope had been transported, he immediately notice the marks on Temple’s neck and that he felt the lump on the back of her head and called for medical attention. He said when he entered the kitchen, he immediately saw a knife on the counter which Temple identified to be the knife that was allegedly used against her.
Loope testified for quite some time about her current and former medical issues and the medications she takes. She indicated that Temple has dementia and is suicidal, and that during the altercation between the two, Temple had threatened to kill herself and left the home. Loope claimed the bump on Temple’s head and the cut on her hand were sustained while Temple was taking care of her horses at her barn several days before the event. She claimed the marks on Temple’s neck were from when she, Loope, grabbed the lapels of Temple’s pajamas in an attempt to push her away.
During closing arguments, Wahlquist asked jurors to consider the “reasonableness’ of Temple’s testimony when compared with Loope’s testimony in light of all the testimony heard. He said Temple had admitted to her part of the incident but that Loope had tried to make it sound like she herself had never done anything wrong. He said all the other evidence presented corroborated Temple’s version of what happened and that he thinks Temple’s version is what actually happened.
Loope’s attorney Michael Jones said in closing arguments that there was reasonable doubt in the case because there were two different stories. He said Temple testified about a knife but Loope said she never had a knife. He said Gonzales did not find the knife but that when Lyon showed up, a knife was miraculously there. He claimed Temple’s memory and recollection of the incident was flawed and that because she did not remember going into the home with Gonzales to look for the knife, it should case doubt on all her other statements.
Loope has been in custody since the incident which occurred April 15, 2018. Pursuant to the two charges being filed in Los Alamos Magistrate Court at that time, a pretrial detention hearing was held before District Judge T. Glenn Ellington. Judge Ellington determined that Loope posed a threat to the community, particularly first responders, healthcare workers and her mother.
Although the jury did not hear about any of Loope’s prior brushes with the law during the trial, a motion filed by Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist seeking the pretrial detention indicated that Loope had a history of violence against her parents. He cited 15 cases since 2009 in which Loope was charged with crimes such as battery, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct, battery and assault against police officers and medical workers.
Loope also has two other charges pending in Los Alamos Magistrate Court, both related to her time in Los Alamos Detention Center. One of the charges which is harassment in connection to calls she made and letters she allegedly sent to people in the Los Alamos community between June and October 2018 which court documents indicate were “vague and harassing in nature”.
The newest charge which was filed Jan. 7, is battery against a police officer. Court documents filed by LAPD Cpl. Amos Smith, indicate that Loope threw a cup of liquid at a Los Alamos Detention Center officer.
According to documents filed by Smith, a female detention officer entered Loope’s cell to inform her that she needed to get ready for transportation to Rio Arriba Detention Center due to the closure of the temporary closure of LADC. The detention officer left and when she returned Loope refused to get off her bed, began to argue and became agitated. The detention officer sought help from another detention officer at which time, Loope allegedly removed a spork from the cup and threw the cup and the liquid it contained at the female detention officer.