FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Sunrise man accused of disemboweling his girlfriend after she screamed her ex-husband's name twice during sex took the stand Thursday in an evidentiary hearing.
Fidel Lopez, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the September 2015 death of Maria Nemeth.
Lopez testified Thursday as Broward County Judge Ilona Holmes mulled whether to allow the gruesome crime-scene photographs and recorded confession in his upcoming murder trial.
Lopez's attorney argued that her client didn't understand his rights because of a language barrier.
"Do you feel like you were free to leave?" defense attorney Melisa McNeill asked Lopez about the day police arrived at his Sunrise apartment.
"No," Lopez said through a translator.
Sunrise police said officers were called to Lopez's apartment after he called 911 to say that his girlfriend was having trouble breathing and was going to die. When officers arrived, they found Nemeth's naked body on the bathroom floor next to a large amount of blood.
[Warning: This article contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing.]
According to the police report, the closet door had been ripped out and was on the hallway floor, and there were holes in the dry wall. Police said the rear sliding-glass door was shattered.
During an interview with detectives, Lopez said that he and Nemeth were drinking tequila inside his apartment when they began to have "rough sex."
Lopez said Nemeth then went into the bathroom to vomit, and he later found her having trouble breathing, so he called 911, the report said.
Detectives said Lopez later admitted that Nemeth "became very intoxicated" and they ended up inside the closet, where they started to have sex. It was during sex that Nemeth said the name of her ex-husband twice, enraging Lopez, detectives said.
Lopez began to break things throughout the apartment, shattering the sliding-glass door and punching holes in the wall, detectives said. He then returned to the closet, where Nemeth was lying unconscious, and "began to insert several items into (her)," the report said.
Detectives said Lopez gave them a graphic description of how he killed her. In the report, Lopez told detectives that he became a "monster."
Lopez said he carried Nemeth to the bathroom and tried to put water on her face to wake her up, but she never regained consciousness, the report said. Lopez then washed the blood off his hands in the bathroom sink, went outside to smoke a cigarette and then began to panic, taking items from the closet to cover up the bloody tissue, the report said.
When he returned to the bathroom to check on Nemeth, Lopez noticed that she wasn't breathing, so he decided to call 911, detectives said Lopez told them.
Nemeth worked in the leasing office at the Colonnade Residences, where her body was found.
Defense attorneys sought to throw out Lopez's confession so that a jury would never know it exists. However, Holmes denied the motion to suppress the confession from trial.
"He said, in the defendant's own words, 'I understand English,'" Holmes said.
Lopez's 911 call and recorded confession were in English.
Defense attorneys are also trying to keep the jury from seeing the crime-scene photos, but Holmes hasn't made a ruling.