Jose “Gio” Lopez, age 18, was sentenced today by Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause to two consecutive life sentences for the December 24, 2013 murder of Ryan Almeida.
On January 30, 2015, a Providence County Superior Court jury found Lopez guilty of murder, discharging a firearm while in the commission of a crime of violence, for which today he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, and conspiracy, or which he was sentenced to 10 years suspended with probation, to run consecutive to the life sentences. At the time of the trial, the jury deliberated for approximately three hours following a 12-day trial presided over by Justice Krause.
“This is another tragic case of a young life cut short by senseless gun violence. On Christmas Eve of 2013, what is usually a time of celebration with family and loved ones, Jose Lopez went driving around with his friends for the sole purpose of finding and shooting at gang rivals, and he accomplished his ruthless goal, brutally murdering Ryan Almeida on his mother’s doorstep,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “Just this week, our community has seen far too many incidents of violence with deadly consequences, and it must end.”
During the course of the trial, the State proved that in the early morning hours of December 24, 2013, Lopez, Jason “Heavy” Gonzalez (age 19), and Daquan “40” Watts (age 21), all members of the Chad Brown street gang, drove in a white Toyota Solara to the Eastside of Providence with the intent to shoot at gang rivals. They did so based on an ongoing conflict with gang members from the Eastside of Providence. Once the three defendants did not find any gang rivals in this section of Providence, they drove towards the Galego Court Housing Development, commonly referred to as the “Manor,” in Pawtucket. They knew that Ryan Almeida, an alleged Eastside gang member, lived and hung out with friends there. Watts drove the Solara to the Manor, with Gonzalez in the front passenger seat and Lopez in the back seat.
When they arrived in the Manor, they saw a black Volvo with its lights on parked near the apartment of Almeida’s mother. Parked across the street from the Manor, Lopez, armed with a .22 caliber black revolver, and Watts exited the vehicle, pulled the hoods of their sweatshirts up, and walked to the entrance of the Manor. As Almeida exited his mother’s apartment, Lopez fired the gun several times, striking him in the torso. As Almeida fell to the ground, Lopez and Watts ran back to the vehicle.
Awoken by noise in the house and the sounds of gunfire outside, Vera Almeida opened the front door to find her son on the ground. Almeida told his mother, “don’t come out here; they’re still out here.” She briefly went back inside to grab a telephone and call E-911. Almeida was transported to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from Jason Gonzalez that, when they arrived on the side street in Pawtucket in the white Solara, Watts stated to him “Heavy grab that” referring to a firearm. Lopez replied from the back seat, “No, I wanna do it.” Lopez then placed a .22 caliber black revolver in his sweatshirt pocket. Gonzalez stayed inside the car while Watts and Lopez got out. When Watts and Lopez returned to the white Solara, Watts said to Gonzalez, “Gio got him.” Lopez stated, “I think I got him.”
In addition, the jury heard testimony from Daquan Watts that Lopez asked Watts to walk with him into the Manor. Watts and Lopez walked into the Manor to see who was in the black Volvo. They walked on the sidewalk until they reached the back of the 80 and 90 Building. They then walked behind the building. When they reached the corner of the building outside of Almeida’s apartment, Watts saw Ryan Almeida closing the door. When Almeida turned around, Watts recognized him. Jose Lopez fired at Almeida several times with the .22 caliber black revolver. Watts saw Almeida fall to the ground. Watts ran and Lopez followed behind him.
Once back in Providence, the three individuals drove Gonzalez back to his house, and Lopez handed the gun to Gonzalez, who put the gun in a safe in his house. Later that morning upon learning Almeida had died, Watts instructed Gonzalez to get rid of the gun. Gonzalez told Watts he dumped it in a nearby sewer, but in reality Gonzalez sold the gun to an individual named “Dame” who lived in the Lockwood Housing complex in Providence. When Dame inspected the gun in Gonzalez’s presence prior to sale of the gun, there were four empty shells in the cylinder of the firearm.
Jose Lopez testified on his own behalf.
In October 2014, Gonzalez pled guilty to carrying a firearm without a license and conspiracy. In November 2015, Watts pled guilty to murder, discharge of a firearm while in the commission of a crime of violence, conspiracy to commit murder, and carrying a pistol without a license. Both are awaiting sentencing.
Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Juvenile Prosecution Unit John Moreira and Special Assistant Attorney General David Bonzagni prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General. The investigation was led by Pawtucket Police Detectives Donti Rosciti and David Silva.
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