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Hearing involves two allegedly connected to weapons burglary

WORTHINGTON — A joint evidentiary hearing for two Worthington residents arrested for their alleged connection with a weapons burglary in Marshall took place Monday morning in Nobles County District Court.

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Michele Lopez and Julio Hernandez were each arrested Nov. 10 after a routine traffic stop that led to police finding three firearms allegedly stolen from Borch’s Sporting Goods store in Marshall.

Hernandez and Lopez are both facing charges of possession of an assault weapon, possession of stolen property and possessing a pistol without a permit in a public place. Hernandez is facing an additional charge for receiving stolen property.

During the hearing, Worthington Police Officer Daniel Walton was called to the stand. Walton, who has been on the force for two years, made the Nov. 10 arrests.

Travis Smith, the prosecuting attorney for the state, questioned Walton about the events that took place that night. A squad car video and voice recording of the events that took place were also played during the hearing.

Walton stated that he had been traveling east on 12th Street near Fourth Avenue in Worthington. While the video recording only includes the distance directly in front of the car, Walton testified that he noticed a car two blocks ahead of him had not come to a complete stop at the stop sign and rolled through the intersection of 12th Street and Second Avenue.

The video showed Walton catching up to the vehicle on Sherwood Street near East Avenue, where he stopped the car. Walton added that prior to his pulling the car over he could not read its license plate or tell who or how many passengers were in the vehicle.

Upon approaching the vehicle, he noticed that there were three passengers — Lopez, Hernandez and a 17-year-old juvenile. After inspecting the passenger’s identification, he recognized the names of Hernandez and the juvenile from a Nov. 8 message for officer safety, regarding the handguns that had been stolen from Marshall. That message had been issued to the Worthington Police Department, and listed Hernandez and the juvenile as potential suspects in the theft of the weapons.

The video showed Walton performing a protective pat-down on Hernandez and the juvenile. A Taurus PT-908 9mm was found in the waistband of Hernandez, and upon further search of the vehicle two firearms were also found.

Defense attorneys John Scholl and Louis Kuchera submitted the Lyon County complaint record against Hernandez as evidence for the defense. The complaint states that the Marshall Police Department may not have any suspects until Nov. 10 responsible for the burglary.

Walton testified that he had never read the Lyon County complaint record, and was only aware of the Nov. 8 message issued to Worthington Police Department from Marshall Police Department listing Hernandez and the juvenile as suspects.

 It was ruled that the evidentiary hearing will be held until the transcript of the Nov. 8 message is submitted, and the transcript of the audio in the squad car video and the Lyon County complaint is reviewed. An official date has not been determined.

Lopez asked the court during the Monday hearing to be released on her own recognizance. It was ruled that she would be denied release, but her bond was reduced from $15,000 to $7,500 with conditions that she does not intake drugs or alcohol, submits to random drug testing, has no contact with Hernandez and the juvenile, and remain in contact with her lawyer.

Both Hernandez and Lopez are in custody in Nobles County Jail.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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