The jury finds a man guilty of killing another in the woods

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) — A man who took a friend into a wooded area, shot him, and then left him to die has been found guilty.

An Allen County jury on Thursday found Anthony Lopez, Jr., now 42, of murder and the fact that he was a handgun-wielding felon in the shooting death of 63-year-old William Jeffrey Kintzel in a wooded area off McCormick Avenue on Am Found guilty April 10. He was also convicted on a third charge of using a firearm in the commission of a crime that could add 20 years to the 65-year murder sentence.

He will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on November 8

Lopez was found guilty after a three-day trial. Lopez’s attorney, Richard Thonert, said his client plans to appeal the conviction.

Lopez shot Kintzel three times shortly after taking the barrel of his gun and hitting him in the face with it. The crime happened on April 10, according to police, who matched the video to the crime scene, but his body was not discovered until April 14.

Lopez was charged days later.

Allen County prosecutors Tom Chaille and Tesa Helge shared a photo of Kintzel clinging to a branch as he tried to crawl out of the woods to get help. The coroner testified that Kintzel was only able to live with his wounds for another half an hour to an hour while struggling on the ground. He was shot three times, twice in the back, with one of those bullets piercing his lung and a third piercing his leg, they said.

Lopez was caught on video at every step of the crime from the commission to the cover-up, Chaille and Helge said. Lopez was seen on video running out of the woods where the 2300 block of Birchwood Avenue intersects McCormick Avenue just seconds after Kintzel and Lopez entered the small wooded area. None of the three people seen in Kintzel’s silver 2021 Dodge Durango — Kintzel, Lopez and Michael A. Barker — lived in the neighborhood where people know their neighbors and look out for one another, neighbors told WANE in April.

Fort Wayne police viewed video showing the SUV with the three occupants circling the area and coming to a stop in the woods with Kintzel at the wheel. When Lopez emerged from the woods, Barker was in the driver’s seat — or “escape,” as Helge put it — and they both drove off in the victim’s SUV.

“He never saw it coming,” Chaille said of the sacrifice. “He (Lopez) shot him twice in the back and leg. Mr. Kintzel tried to drag himself out of the woods,” adding that his arm was wrapped around a small branch he had used to physically help him in desperation.

Lopez, who often seemed bored with the court proceedings, forgot to remove the keychain from Kintzel’s neck, Chaille said. When police found him, the key fob registered to Kintzel’s Dodge Durango, which had been towed behind the Dollar General Store on Block 6400 of East State Boulevard.

Video evidence from Dollar General showed Lopez and Barker buying snacks, Clorox wipes and bleach. Outside video showed them diligently clearing out the car and then dumping Lopez’s bags into a dumpster, which was emptied after April 10, when the shooting occurred, but before Kintzel’s body was discovered by a teenage boy around 7 p.m. on April 14

Barker walked away never to be seen again, Chaille said, but Lopez was caught selling his gold necklace with a religious cross for $500 with the help of a relative on March 15th. He was later picked up by police officers during a traffic stop.

Barker was charged with criminal murder and robbery with aggravated assault shortly after the shooting. There is and was an arrest warrant for him.

Although no motive needs to be given in a murder case, Chaille said the motive could have been robbery — Kintzel had no valuables with him except for the key ring around his neck — drugs, “or some kind of beef, or the defendant’s saw, something.”

Questioned during a police interview by homicide detectives Brian Martin and Darrin Strayer, Lopez twice told them that he did not kill Kintzel. But he was a friend.

Lopez’s attorney, Richard Thonert, said someone like his client only had a 9th Schooling was at a disadvantage with tough, experienced detectives like Martin and Strayer. Lopez ran out of the woods when he saw his friend Kintzel and panicked. His reaction was none other than that of the little boy who had come across Kintzel’s body in the woods. And just maybe there were other people there who shot him.

“He turned and ran. He did. He saw the body, turned and ran away,” said Thonert. A few days later, he bought a gun to protect himself because “people were looking for him.” The weapon used in the crime was not found. There is no evidence of bad blood between Lopez and Kintzel, he added.

Thonert concluded that if prosecutors had had Kintzel’s phone, more light could be shed on the events leading up to the fatal rendezvous in the woods. Of course, Lopez knew Kintzel, who let Lopez borrow his car from time to time. They partied together and did drugs and cocaine, and that’s why Lopez never called 911 when he saw the body. People who prefer this lifestyle don’t like to get involved with the police.

“He did some pretty stupid things, but that doesn’t mean he’s guilty of murder,” said Thonert, who claimed there wasn’t a single witness who could prove the prosecution’s case. He also said that if Lopez wanted to kill Kintzel, he didn’t forget to take the SUV’s keys with him, forcing Lopez and Barker to exit the vehicle near the dumpster, the video shows.

If the two are such good friends, asks Helge, who got his second degree for the state, it doesn’t explain why Lopez “don’t even bother to help him,” an older man who’s been trying to get himself by crawling out to save the forest. Barker-turned-getaway driver waited nervously in the SUV. Lopez dramatically texted Barker that he was waiting for him there in the woods.

‘He shoots him from behind and runs out of the woods?’ said Helge. “Gosh, is that cold.” Lopez threw his clothes behind Ziffles, parked his necklace at a pawn shop under a different name, and an eyewitness saw Lopez take Kintzel into the woods. Another neighbor heard gunshots around the time the shooting took place, but thought it might have been fireworks.

“Some cases just aren’t difficult when you put it all together,” Chaille said.

Lopez didn’t take the conviction stoically. He glared at Helge and seemed to curse her.

A woman on Lopez’s side had to leave the courtroom and was heard crying loudly outside. His mother quietly shed her tears. No one from either family wanted to speak to the media after the verdicts. The jury finds a man guilty of killing another in the woods

Dais Johnston

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