OKC Murder Suspect Not Charged, Acted In Self-Defense

Thursday, February 7th 2019, 5:19 pm
By: News 9

A metro man found to be defending his life will not be charged with murder. 

Phillip Sanchez, 31, spent more than a week in jail accused of beating Cesar Lopez, 33, to death.

Sanchez walked out of the Oklahoma County jail on Wednesday. The Oklahoma County District Attorney declined to file a murder charge stating he acted in self-defense.        

“I think he’s fortunate they investigated it as strong as they did,” said Irven Box, Sanchez’s attorney. “He’s fortunate to be out today.”  

Box met Sanchez the day before homicide detectives filed an arrest warrant for first-degree murder. A witness told police Sanchez was asleep on Jan. 27 in a southwest Oklahoma City home when Lopez attacked him in a bedroom.

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“This guy came in and attacked him,” said Box. “Hit him in the head with a pot from the kitchen. Broke the handle off the pot he hit him so hard.”

Sanchez then punched Lopez, threw him to the ground and continued punching him. The witness told detectives she thought Lopez was breathing and she went back to sleep. Sanchez went to the hospital.

“Phillip Sanchez had 13 stitches in the back of his head and eight in the front,” said Box.

The witness realized Lopez was dead and called police. Two days later, Sanchez surrendered himself to police at his attorney's office and was booked into jail.

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“Early on I thought it was self-defense,” said Box. “I kept telling my client if the facts you relayed to me are true, these detectives from Oklahoma City, Benavides and Palmer will get to the truth.”

Sanchez learned Wednesday that the evidence did not support a murder charge and he would be released from jail.

“Everybody thinks he murdered someone,” said Box. “The indications were that he murdered someone, when in truth he had defended himself from being murdered himself.”

Sanchez was in jail for eight days. He was kept mostly in protective custody due to the victim's alleged gang ties.