Mistrial granted in toddler death murder trial

A first-degree murder trial for a Clive man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 20-month-old child abruptly ended on Wednesday when a judge declared a mistrial.

Joe Anthony Lopez, 26, will face a new trial on May 2 for the Dec. 3, 2014, death of Ruby Alvarez, who prosecutors claim was fatally injured by Lopez when he squeezed and shook the child. Lopez initially told police that the toddler seemingly fell from a high chair while he was in the bathroom, but prosecutors argued that Alvarez’s injuries were inconsistent with a fall.

The child’s mother, Nisa Alvarez, took the witness stand on Wednesday morning and at one point told jurors that Lopez had forced her to have sex with him during their relationship, according to WHO-TV. District Court Judge Jeanie Vaudt declared a mistrial after defense attorneys argued the unexpected testimony would be prejudicial to Lopez.

Lopez also faces a charge of child endangerment.