Sentencing of Victor Lopez for the First-Degree Murder of Samantha Teresa – By Michele Schottelkorb, the victim’s oldest sister.

Written on 1/31/2023. CASE PCF373414 – People vs. Lopez, Victor Manuel – Felony-Porterville

When we gathered in this courthouse on November 10th, 2022, Victor Lopez’s defense stated that he had been living a nightmare for the past 4 years.

NO! He has been living in a jail cell, put there of his own doing, and he has had 3 meals a day, no responsibilities, and he has made no effort to show one ounce of remorse for brutally and viciously murdering my baby sister, his wife, Samantha Teresa Quintanar.

We, her family and loved ones, have been living the nightmare. Her children, two of which he fathered, have had no mother for over 4 years now, and are being raised by their grandparents and her first husband. They are the ones living a nightmare. Her mother, our mother, died of a broken heart on March 18th, 2021, three weeks before the first trial was supposed to happen on April 12, 2021; our mother was living in a nightmare. She could not take the back and forth, the dangling of plea deals, only to be revoked, that this man would continue to use to toy with our family, all the way until November 7th of last year, when finally jury selection began. The heartbreak of losing her youngest daughter in such a horrific manner haunted her, and she was not able to survive this loss. On behalf of her, I tell the court this, since she is not hear to speak her words herself.

My daughter broke her jaw in her sleep one month after her aunt was murdered. I have struggled, every night, just to get to sleep, since I received that phone call, at 5:30 pm, on November 27th, 2018, from our sister, Amanda, and heard her screaming on the other end of the phone, “Samantha’s dead! Our sister is dead!!” I asked, “How?” She screamed, “Victor killed her! Victor killed our sister!” I remember standing there, it felt like every bit of oxygen left my body, my other daughter, standing in front of me, at 13 years of age, touching my face, as I had touched my sister Samantha’s face just three months prior (as tears ran down it), and saying, “Mama, you need to breathe, please breathe, mama” and I remember thinking, how can my sister not be breathing? How can I draw breath, her oldest sister, and she is not? I would find out, with the rest of the world, a day later, that she had been manually suffocated. I would find out, with the rest of our family, at the preliminary hearing on February 7th, 2020, that he depleted her body of oxygen to such a degree that her fingernails were black, and this I confirmed with my own eyes as I sat in this courtroom, 2 months ago, and bore witness to crime scene and autopsy photos, of what that monster did to my baby sister. I helped raise Sammy. She was mine; she was ours.

Two of our sisters were pregnant when Samantha was murdered. Both of them delivered their daughters, our nieces, early and had complications. I personally attribute these instances, as well as the trauma to my children, and the death of my mother, directly to the actions of Victor Lopez, when he murdered my sister. I feel he murdered two people that day, and caused immeasurable physical and mental anguish across the spectrum of our family. The loss to my nieces and nephew cannot be measured. My sister was still nursing her beautiful baby boy, when he viciously took her life. We heard in court that my nephew was inconsolable that night after she was killed. I nursed both of my girls, and Samantha was so happy that she was able to share this bond with her son. Victor Lopez took that away.

I have 50 percent bone loss in my right back jaw because I clench my teeth from PTSD from what Victor Lopez did. I have laid awake, many nights, and I have had horrific nightmares over the past four years, and nightly since the trial. I cannot block out what he did to her. I imagined it, before the trial, and now I see it whenever I close my eyes. What her last moments were like. Sometimes when I am at work, tears just fall from my eyes. My co-workers are aware of what has happened and some days, I have a hard time focusing. Some days, all I see is what he did to her. And she was so much more than that night. She was the laughter and the joy in our family. She was the one rooting for everyone else. And now, she is gone.

When she was murdered, our family felt like it fell apart. We five sisters fought hard to make our way in this world, and we had done so. She had her master’s degree in social work by the age of 29, and was working at the hospital here, in Porterville, as the master of social work for hospice care. She made a difference in the lives of people who are at the end of their lives. This was her calling… She was robbed of that and all of her clients that were meant to have my sister, my Sammy, hold their hand and help them deal with the hardest part of their lives, were cheated because that monster refused to let her live that night. I was told they brought in counselors for over a year to cope with the trauma that her coworkers and clients endured due to her murder.

We were there when her children were told that their mother was dead, murdered by Victor Lopez. We as a family identified her body at the funeral home… her lifeless and cold body, nothing like the vibrant, vivacious, gorgeous sister I knew all of her life. We have been put through nearly 55 hearings as a family and at any time, Victor Lopez could have taken responsibility for what he did that night, and yet, he refused. He showed no remorse during the trial. My husband has had to help me cope every day after losing her. Some days are harder than others. It feels empty and broken, our family, without our baby sister.

She mattered. She was here. She was a mother, she was a sister, she was a daughter, she was an aunt and a granddaughter and a niece… Oh how her nieces and nephews adored her, and she loved them with every fiber in her body. He took that away from our children. Her father lost his mom right before this monster murdered our sister. They were in mourning, and he did not care. She was a cousin, a bestie, a social worker with a purpose. She deserved so much more and so much better.

I implore the court, and your honor, to please help us to live in peace. No murderer should be granted leniency for their ill will. Help our family collect some peace of mind from the selfish, vicious, unrepentant acts of a man’s intentional act of murder upon my sister. We want and ask for the maximum sentence that the law can be upheld by your honor. Samantha should be alive right now. She was a productive, contributing member of society, who touched so many more lives outside of our family circle. She was a mother to her four legacies, who live on in her memory, as she is IRREPLACEABLE. Her story now is told as such: If your partner threatens they are going to kill you, believe them, they will. My sister was a fierce, beautiful, intelligent, educated, advocate and survivor, and she was murdered senselessly by Victor Lopez, and our lives have been changed irreversibly. She never wanted to be a victim. I hate him for his actions that label her as such. There is no good that comes from homicide. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, no feel-good lesson to be learned. We must just accept that she is GONE. I have to accept, every day, that she is laying in the cold, six feet under, where I go and lay with her often. It is the only place I get to be near her ever again.

I want to thank Senior Deputy District Attorney Kirk Davis and the discerning and judicious jury, for providing Samantha and our family a guilty verdict of first-degree murder as well as finding Victor Lopez guilty of inflicting injury on a spouse with a special allegation of great bodily injury. I also want to thank our victims’ advocates, Kerissa Moya, Stacey Zaragoza, and Araceli Gonzalez for providing services to our family. I also wish to thank the bailiffs that fairly oversaw the exceptional amount of hearings, as well as the murder trial and made sure that the courtroom was devoid of distractions so that a fair and just case could be presented. Lastly, I thank you, Honorable Judge Juliet Boccone, for proceeding over the trial and showing fairness, as well as empathy when appropriate. As the state would say after closing arguments, and as the oldest sister of Samantha—my sweet Sammy—Michele Schottelkorb, now rests.