Mother’s Testimony Leads to Mistrial in Case of Clive Toddler’s Murder

DES MOINES, Iowa — The trial for a man accused of killing his girlfriend’s toddler ended in a mistrial Wednesday.

The mistrial was declared by the judge due to comments made by the child’s mother, Nissa Alvarez, during testimony Wednesday morning. Joe Lopez, 26, is accused of killing 20-month-old Ruby Alvarez.

Alvarez was asked about her relationships with Lopez, who had just moved in with Alvarez and her daughter a few months prior to Ruby’s death.

“It was on and off. He would force sexual intercourse with me,” Alvarez said.

The judge said the statement was too prejudicial and declared a mistrial.

“The motion for mistrial was required for the purpose of protecting my client’s rights,” said defense attorney Thomas Miller.

Lopez is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. The toddler died Dec. 3, 2014 after she sustained serious injuries to her skull and ribs five days prior.

Opening statements in the trial began Monday and medical experts testified about Ruby’s injuries Tuesday. Prosecutors claim Ruby’s injuries were caused by Lopez. The defense argues the toddler’s injuries were caused when she fell from a high chair.

A date for the new trial has not been set but officials are looking at May as a possibility.