San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

Outbursts Before Dad Sentenced for Condo Fire That Killed 2 Kids

"F*** this! Take responsibility for your actions. It happened on your watch. F*** this," the juror said

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Tension filled a San Diego courtroom Wednesday leading to multiple outbursts before a father learned he will spend nearly 13 years in prison for an October 2017 condominium fire that led to the death of his two children.

A juror said he just couldn't help himself when he screamed at Henry Lopez and stormed out of the room as Lopez addressed the court before his sentencing.

"F*** this! Take responsibility for your actions. It happened on your watch. F*** this," the juror said.

A juror shouts at Henry Lopez moments before walking out of the courtroom.

A jury convicted Henry Lopez in September 2019 of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and recklessly causing the fire that killed his 10-year-old son, Cristos Lopez, and 7-year-old daughter, Isabella Lopez.

Henry 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 two children were asleep -- Cristos Lopez in his father's bed and Isabella Lopez in the bottom bunk of her brother's room -- when the blaze erupted. Neighbors called 911 but said the blaze was so intense, there was nothing they could do.

Ahead of the sentencing, emotions filled the courtroom as the family of both the children and Henry Lopez read impact statements.

Henry Lopez was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and recklessly causing the fire that killed his son and daughter. NBC 7’s Joe Little reports.

The children's mother, Nikia Lopez, spoke about miscarriages she suffered before her son and daughter were born; she spoke of getting a double mastectomy after they were alive -- in her words, all for her children.

"You took them away within 12 hours," she said to her ex. "I told my heavenly children I’ll never get into the gates of heaven 'cause I will never forgive you, ever, ever."

During her statement, Henry Lopez shook his head and nearly rolled his eyes. Then, he screamed at Nikia Lopez, sending gasps through the courtroom.

"You're lying! This is about the children. Why are you doing this?" he said.

Henry Lopez's family also made statements defending their loved one, stating Henry Lopez is not a criminal.

"I can tell you my son Henry is not a criminal. This tragic event was not intentional," a letter from Lopez's father, Enrique Lopez said.

Nikia Lopez and Enrique Lopez hugged after the impact statements. A judge considered the statements to determine the length of the sentence.

Henry Lopez was sentenced to 12 years and 8 months in prison.

At the time of the deadly fire, Henry Lopez's blood-alcohol level was 0.26 percent, more than three times the legal driving limit, prosecutors said. Empty alcohol bottles and dozens of cigarette butts were collected from the condo as evidence that night.

Henry Lopez' legal team argued the blaze was not caused by a lit cigarette but instead by a defective off-brand cell phone charger. The jury sided with prosecutors and convicted the father of sparking the blaze.

Cristos Lopez and Isabella Lopez were students at Sunset Hills Elementary School in Rancho Bernardo. Isabella Lopez was in the second grade and her older brother was a fifth-grader. 

NBC 7's Danica McAdam shares details on emotional testimony at start of the trial for Henry Lopez, a San Diego father accused of drinking himself to sleep before a fire sparked at his home, leading to the death of his two children. Lopez's ex-wife and mother of the children took the stand and, when asked how much she hated Lopez, she paused and said, "He's non-existent to me."

Nikia Lopez told NBC 7 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,'" Nikia Lopez said, tearfully.

"Right then and there he flatlined and he left me like a good boy. He was always a good boy," she added.

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