A Rancho Bernardo man whose two children died when his condo caught fire in October 2017 was handcuffed Monday and taken into custody after he was convicted in their deaths.
Henry Lopez lowered his head and shook it at one point while the court clerk read the jury's verdict. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and recklessly causing the fire that killed his son and daughter.
"My honest reaction? I wanted to stand up, run over there and ask him how can you chuckle and laugh and giggle all the way to the end? These were your children. But that's what a narcissist does," said Nikia Lopez, the children's mother and ex-wife of Henry Lopez.
Lopez drank himself to sleep with a cigarette in his mouth, sparking the fire on Bernardo Terrace in the middle of the night on Oct. 28, 2017.
The first people to call 911 said the fire was so intense, there wasn't much they could do.
The community mourned after it was learned that Cristos Lopez, 10 was found dead inside his father’s room, burned to death. His little sister, Isabella Lopez, 7, was found dead on the bottom bunk bed of her brother’s room.
Their father was injured but survived the fire. His blood-alcohol level was at 0.26 percent when it was taken at the hospital, prosecutors said.
Despite the defense's theory that an off-brand phone charger caused the fire, jurors returned with guilty verdicts.
Judge Steven E. Stone ordered the defendant be handcuffed and taken into custody. Lopez faces more than 16 years behind bars.
Cristos and Isabella were students at Sunset Hills Elementary School in Rancho Bernardo. Bella Lopez was in the second grade and her older brother was a fifth grader.
Their mother, Nikia Lopez, told NBC 7 that her son Cristos did not actually die in the fire. Cristos succumbed to his injuries later at the hospital.
"And I said you need to go because your sister is waiting for you at heaven's gate and you need to go because I know she's scared," Ms. Lopez said in a tearful statement.
"Right then and there he flatlined and he left me like a good boy. He was always a good boy," she added.