The Prosecutor, November-December 2009, Volume 39, No. 6

He almost got away with murder

2009
A 17-year police veteran shot and killed his wife in 2002. Denton County prosecutors recently took the case of twists and turns to trial and, seven years later, won a 45-year sentence against the defendant. Here’s how they did it.

Even without a seven-year delay between when Bobby Lozano killed his wife, Viki, and when he was finally brought to justice, this case promised to be a fight. Not only was he a longtime officer with the Denton Police Department whose mother-in-law—the murder victim’s mom!—stood by him through trial, but we also had to overcome crime scene mistakes, many years of fading memories, no family support, and re-examination of the evidence.

The crime scene

At 9:05 p.m. on July 6, 2002, Bobby Lozano called 911, saying he had just come home to find his wife with a gunshot wound. He reported that she was not breathing and that he would begin CPR. Paramedics arrived only four minutes later, and Lozano was standing at the front door holding his toddler son, Monty—not out of breath, not a hair out of place, and with no visible blood on him, his clothing, or the child.

Upon seeing Viki Lozano in the master bedroom, paramedics chose not to perform lifesaving measures. One described her as being “dead-dead.” She was lying on her back on the side of the bed, her right foot hanging off. Her skin was cold to the touch, pale, and waxy, and her right foot and ankle had obvious lividity. The main two paramedics testified that in their extensive experience with death, she had been dead for at least an hour, probably more like 90 minutes—certainly not the 30 to 45 minutes Lozano claimed to have been gone from the house. Lying next to Viki on the bed was an open gun-cleaning kit, two sheets of newspaper, cleaning supplies, and Bobby Lozano’s 9-mm Glock service weapon covered in oil.

During his 17-year career at the Denton Police Department, Lozano had earned a reputation as a ladies’ man who did not let his marriage interfere with his love life. Perhaps Viki, at her wit’s end over his endless philandering, had killed herself? Maybe she or Lozano had sloppily laid the gun-cleaning kit on the bed to cover up her suicide? Or could her death have actually been a gun-cleaning accident?

Though Lozano had been assigned on-call duty that weekend, he had asked Jeff Wawro to cover his shift so he could take his wife out to celebrate their wedding anniversary, so Wawro had the unenviable task of investigating the death of his coworker’s wife. Lozano’s story was that he had started to clean his Glock but instead decided to go to the tanning salon first. He claimed to have left the gun on the bed and had declined Viki’s offer to clean it for him.

Word of Viki’s death spread quickly that night, and the house soon filled with officers arriving both in an official capacity and to support Lozano. Family members, too, arrived at the scene fairly quickly. The working officers attempted to balance the need to preserve a possible crime scene while being sensitive to a fellow officer who might have lost his wife to a suicide or accident. Consequently, only the master suite was treated as a possible crime scene; Lozano’s car was not searched or seized, and no systematic search of the rest of the house was ever done, other than to rule out forced entry. No one drove the route to the tanning salon to look for or in trash bins. The department’s gunshot residue kit was out of date, so no sample was taken from Lozano’s hands. He was not brought to the station for questioning or questioned at the scene. Instead, officers heard him tell his story to family and friends over the course of the evening. At 11:00 p.m., almost two hours after the 911 call, the crime scene team entered the bedroom and began taking pictures.

First they took photos of the scene from various angles. Before moving the body or anything on the bed, the team searched for the spent shell casing ejected from the gun, but they could not find it. After Viki’s body was removed, the officers pulled the gun cleaning kit, the newspaper, and other cleaning items to the foot of the bed to look for the casing. Ideally, when an item was removed from its position on the bed, it should be immediately placed into evidence, but in this case, virtually every item was moved to the foot of the bed before it was bagged and placed into evidence.

The search for the casing was more difficult because of the patterned blanket covering the bed; it depicted a tiger with a background of trees and plants. As investigators straightened the blanket’s folds, the casing was discovered within the pattern of branches. Photos were immediately taken of the newly discovered casing as it lay; these photos also captured the items that had been moved from their original location to the foot of the bed.

Scientific findings

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest, but the manner of death was undetermined. The ME could not conclusively establish whether it was homicide, suicide, or accident.

Deputy Medical Examiner Gary Sisler found that there was an entrance wound almost in the center of Viki’s chest. The wound was not contact, but the weapon had been 3 to 6 inches away. There was a shored exit wound on her left side, meaning that that side of her body was against something substantial when she was shot (the mattress). The wound path was down about 3 inches from entrance to exit, and the bullet had torn through her heart, lungs, liver, and spleen before it was stopped by the density of the mattress before it could pass through her pajama top. Dr. Sisler’s position was that based on the location and angle of the wound, he could not determine if she had pulled the trigger or if someone else had.

Viki had gunshot residue on her sleeves, which was consistent with her hands’ closeness to the gun as it fired, either by firing the gun herself or holding her hands up in defense. Viki’s hands were swabbed for residue, but the control swab came back contaminated, nullifying the test. She also had gunpowder on her right cheek and neck, indicating her head had been turned away from the gun when it was fired into her chest, passing into her left side.

Small fragments of popcorn husks were stuck to both the front and left side of Viki’s body. She also had a very small fragment of popcorn in her mouth. She had clearly been eating popcorn in bed, but no popcorn or container thereof was near the bed or anywhere in the bedroom. No one even thought to look for a bowl or bag of popcorn elsewhere in the house the night she died, as none of the officers knew about the husks until weeks later when the lab completed its trace analysis. That snack would become another piece of intriguing evidence.

Defendant’s statement

Two days after Viki’s death, Bobby Lozano met with Texas Rangers Tracy Murphree and Tony Benny and typed out his written statement detailing what led to Viki’s death. Ranger Murphree later described it as the most bizarre statement he had ever received. Lozano painted a picture of a couple devoted to each other and their young son. He detailed their anniversary evening of reminiscing about their good fortune, their return home from dinner, and falling asleep together after sharing such a wonderful evening. He ignored the fact that he had left his wife alone after dinner to make a midnight visit to his girlfriend. He returned home about 2 a.m.

According to him, he and his wife woke up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, took their son to the park, and shopped at a local Target. In the evening, he played a computer game for an hour before deciding to clean his gun in preparation for a trip to the gun range the next morning. He claimed to have placed the gun, cleaning supplies, and newspaper on the bed next to his wife, who was watching television, before deciding instead to run up to the salon for a quick tan at 8:15 on a Saturday night. He returned 45 minutes later to find his wife dead on the bed.

The marriage

Viki married Bobby Lozano when she was only 20. During the course of their marriage she longed for a child of her own. Years before her death a coworker at the school where she taught asked her why she and her husband did not have children. Viki silently pulled a photograph of herself as an overweight teenager out of her wallet. She explained that Bobby made her carry this picture around so that she would never forget what she used to look like. She further explained that he did not want her to have children because he feared her gaining weight.

Viki would occasionally reveal similar snippets of information to coworkers. He weighed her. He monitored her food intake. He used calipers to determine her body fat percentage. He dictated her workouts, increasing them if she gained any weight. Her adult life she always maintained a very trim figure, but, not surprisingly, suffered from eating disorders over the years. Viki’s life was at home, at work, and at the gym with him.

A couple of years after her father died, Viki, Bobby, and Viki’s mother, Anna Farrish, pooled resources and built their dream house together. Anna lived very comfortably, the widow of a college professor. Because of her contribution, the family was able to build a half-million-dollar house with a master suite on one side for Viki and Bobby and another suite on the opposite side for Anna.

Over the years Viki pined for a baby and Lozano tried to appease her with pets. Finally, after 15 years of marriage, he acquiesced, and Monty was born on August 15, 2001. She completely adored that baby. Viki returned to her teaching job after her maternity leave but planned on taking the following year off to be a full-time mom.

Even without a seven-year delay between when Bobby Lozano killed his wife, Viki, and when he was finally brought to justice, this case promised to be a fight. Not only was he a longtime officer with the Denton Police Department whose mother-in-law—the murder victim’s mom!—stood by him through trial, but we also had to overcome crime scene mistakes, many years of fading memories, no family support, and re-examination of the evidence.

The crime scene
At 9:05 p.m. on July 6, 2002, Bobby Lozano called 911, saying he had just come home to find his wife with a gunshot wound. He reported that she was not breathing and that he would begin CPR. Paramedics arrived only four minutes later, and Lozano was standing at the front door holding his toddler son, Monty—not out of breath, not a hair out of place, and with no visible blood on him, his clothing, or the child.
    Upon seeing Viki Lozano in the master bedroom, paramedics chose not to perform lifesaving measures. One described her as being “dead-dead.” She was lying on her back on the side of the bed, her right foot hanging off. Her skin was cold to the touch, pale, and waxy, and her right foot and ankle had obvious lividity. The main two paramedics testified that in their extensive experience with death, she had been dead for at least an hour, probably more like 90 minutes—certainly not the 30 to 45 minutes Lozano claimed to have been gone from the house. Lying next to Viki on the bed was an open gun-cleaning kit, two sheets of newspaper, cleaning supplies, and Bobby Lozano’s 9-mm Glock service weapon covered in oil.
    During his 17-year career at the Denton Police Department, Lozano had earned a reputation as a ladies’ man who did not let his marriage interfere with his love life. Perhaps Viki, at her wit’s end over his endless philandering, had killed herself? Maybe she or Lozano had sloppily laid the gun-cleaning kit on the bed to cover up her suicide? Or could her death have actually been a gun-cleaning accident?
    Though Lozano had been assigned on-call duty that weekend, he had asked Jeff Wawro to cover his shift so he could take his wife out to celebrate their wedding anniversary, so Wawro had the unenviable task of investigating the death of his coworker’s wife. Lozano’s story was that he had started to clean his Glock but instead decided to go to the tanning salon first. He claimed to have left the gun on the bed and had declined Viki’s offer to clean it for him.
    Word of Viki’s death spread quickly that night, and the house soon filled with officers arriving both in an official capacity and to support Lozano. Family members, too, arrived at the scene fairly quickly. The working officers attempted to balance the need to preserve a possible crime scene while being sensitive to a fellow officer who might have lost his wife to a suicide or accident. Consequently, only the master suite was treated as a possible crime scene; Lozano’s car was not searched or seized, and no systematic search of the rest of the house was ever done, other than to rule out forced entry. No one drove the route to the tanning salon to look for or in trash bins. The department’s gunshot residue kit was out of date, so no sample was taken from Lozano’s hands. He was not brought to the station for questioning or questioned at the scene. Instead, officers heard him tell his story to family and friends over the course of the evening. At 11:00 p.m., almost two hours after the 911 call, the crime scene team entered the bedroom and began taking pictures.
    First they took photos of the scene from various angles. Before moving the body or anything on the bed, the team searched for the spent shell casing ejected from the gun, but they could not find it. After Viki’s body was removed, the officers pulled the gun cleaning kit, the newspaper, and other cleaning items to the foot of the bed to look for the casing. Ideally, when an item was removed from its position on the bed, it should be immediately placed into evidence, but in this case, virtually every item was moved to the foot of the bed before it was bagged and placed into evidence.
    The search for the casing was more difficult because of the patterned blanket covering the bed; it depicted a tiger with a background of trees and plants. As investigators straightened the blanket’s folds, the casing was discovered within the pattern of branches. Photos were immediately taken of the newly discovered casing as it lay; these photos also captured the items that had been moved from their original location to the foot of the bed.

Scientific findings
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest, but the manner of death was undetermined. The ME could not conclusively establish whether it was homicide, suicide, or accident.
    Deputy Medical Examiner Gary Sisler found that there was an entrance wound almost in the center of Viki’s chest. The wound was not contact, but the weapon had been 3 to 6 inches away. There was a shored exit wound on her left side, meaning that that side of her body was against something substantial when she was shot (the mattress). The wound path was down about 3 inches from entrance to exit, and the bullet had torn through her heart, lungs, liver, and spleen before it was stopped by the density of the mattress before it could pass through her pajama top. Dr. Sisler’s position was that based on the location and angle of the wound, he could not determine if she had pulled the trigger or if someone else had.
    Viki had gunshot residue on her sleeves, which was consistent with her hands’ closeness to the gun as it fired, either by firing the gun herself or holding her hands up in defense. Viki’s hands were swabbed for residue, but the control swab came back contaminated, nullifying the test. She also had gunpowder on her right cheek and neck, indicating her head had been turned away from the gun when it was fired into her chest, passing into her left side.
    Small fragments of popcorn husks were stuck to both the front and left side of Viki’s body. She also had a very small fragment of popcorn in her mouth. She had clearly been eating popcorn in bed, but no popcorn or container thereof was near the bed or anywhere in the bedroom. No one even thought to look for a bowl or bag of popcorn elsewhere in the house the night she died, as none of the officers knew about the husks until weeks later when the lab completed its trace analysis. That snack would become another piece of intriguing evidence.

Defendant’s statement
Two days after Viki’s death, Bobby Lozano met with Texas Rangers Tracy Murphree and Tony Benny and typed out his written statement detailing what led to Viki’s death. Ranger Murphree later described it as the most bizarre statement he had ever received. Lozano painted a picture of a couple devoted to each other and their young son. He detailed their anniversary evening of reminiscing about their good fortune, their return home from dinner, and falling asleep together after sharing such a wonderful evening. He ignored the fact that he had left his wife alone after dinner to make a midnight visit to his girlfriend. He returned home about 2 a.m.
    According to him, he and his wife woke up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, took their son to the park, and shopped at a local Target. In the evening, he played a computer game for an hour before deciding to clean his gun in preparation for a trip to the gun range the next morning. He claimed to have placed the gun, cleaning supplies, and newspaper on the bed next to his wife, who was watching television, before deciding instead to run up to the salon for a quick tan at 8:15 on a Saturday night. He returned 45 minutes later to find his wife dead on the bed.

The marriage
Viki married Bobby Lozano when she was only 20. During the course of their marriage she longed for a child of her own. Years before her death a coworker at the school where she taught asked her why she and her husband did not have children. Viki silently pulled a photograph of herself as an overweight teenager out of her wallet. She explained that Bobby made her carry this picture around so that she would never forget what she used to look like. She further explained that he did not want her to have children because he feared her gaining weight.
    Viki would occasionally reveal similar snippets of information to coworkers. He weighed her. He monitored her food intake. He used calipers to determine her body fat percentage. He dictated her workouts, increasing them if she gained any weight. Her adult life she always maintained a very trim figure, but, not surprisingly, suffered from eating disorders over the years. Viki’s life was at home, at work, and at the gym with him.
    A couple of years after her father died, Viki, Bobby, and Viki’s mother, Anna Farrish, pooled resources and built their dream house together. Anna lived very comfortably, the widow of a college professor. Because of her contribution, the family was able to build a half-million-dollar house with a master suite on one side for Viki and Bobby and another suite on the opposite side for Anna.
    Over the years Viki pined for a baby and Lozano tried to appease her with pets. Finally, after 15 years of marriage, he acquiesced, and Monty was born on August 15, 2001. She completely adored that baby. Viki returned to her teaching job after her maternity leave but planned on taking the following year off to be a full-time mom.

The girlfriends
If infidelity were an Olympic event, Bobby Lozano would win the gold. As investigators examined his personal life, it quickly became clear that during the course of the marriage Lozano was consistently unfaithful to Viki and used his position at the police department to meet women. In 2002 Investigator Wawro was able to track down and obtain statements from lovers Lozano met through the Denton Police Department; these included a fellow detective, a college intern, and a witness, defendant, and even a victim in various criminal cases.

The girlfriends described Lozano as largely motivated by money. He had told them that his wife’s family was wealthy and that he enjoyed a more comfortable lifestyle because of the marriage—the main reason he would never leave her.

One girlfriend was Cindy, a fellow detective in an unhappy marriage with two young children. What started as a flirtation led to an affair, which blossomed in January and February of 2001. Lozano relentlessly pursued her, giving her daily love letters dripping with descriptions of his breathlessness in her presence, that his heart was “mesmerized” and his soul “enraptured.” A woman with very low self-esteem at that point, she fell for every lie and every cheesy dime-store romance novel line he uttered.

By November 2001 she had filed for divorce from her husband and was completely committed to Lozano. The day Monty was born, Lozano left his wife’s side at the hospital to visit Cindy. According to Lozano, he and his wife had agreed they would separate when Monty turned one. Cindy completely believed these lies. By early 2002 Lozano, still living with his wife, was house shopping with Cindy. He had convinced Cindy that he had approximately $700,000 secreted away in a Mexican bank account that would be used to buy their own $500,000 house together. Cindy did not know of the $750,000 life insurance money he had on his wife.

In February 2002 Lozano described to Cindy that Viki had gone to visit the divorce attorney and had just signed paperwork, but in truth Viki was filling out paperwork to take a leave of absence from work to stay home with their son. She also applied for an additional $350,000 life insurance policy on herself naming Robert Lozano as the sole beneficiary.

By the summer of 2002, Cindy did not know the truth from the lies. She began questioning whether the divorce and Lozano’s plans to move out of the family home were fiction. Putting her detective skills to work, she went to the apartment complex where Lozano had claimed to have rented a place and confirmed that he had in fact reserved an apartment but had not yet moved. On Friday, July 5, 2002, Lozano took her to lunch and asked her to have faith in him, then went home to take Viki out to dinner for their anniversary. Anna Farrish babysat Monty as Viki and Bobby went to Il Sole, a nice Dallas restaurant, for a late reservation. He and Viki were back at home around 11:00 p.m., and Bobby was at Cindy’s house by midnight. He left Cindy’s bed and returned home around 2:00 a.m.

By 9:00 the next night, his wife was dead, and a few months later, Detective Lozano was indicted for murdering his wife.

The first look

Leading up to the indictment, then-Lieutenant Lee Howell of the Denton Police Department served as liaison with Viki’s mother, Anna Farrish. From their first meeting in August 2002, Farrish was adamant that Viki’s death be ruled an accident. She made it clear that any other finding was “unacceptable” and would bring unnecessary shame and embarrassment to her family. She told others that Viki accidentally discharged the gun into her chest when her small dogs jumped onto her bed, startling her.

In an effort to address the inconclusive finding of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner, the District Attorney’s Office sought a second opinion on the manner of death. Chief Medical Examiner Edmund Donoghue from Cooke County, Illinois, was in Dallas at a conference. The prosecutors assigned to the original Lozano case met with him at his hotel, armed with photographs of the crime scene for his review. Donoghue indicated that there was insufficient evidence from the photos to conclusively establish manner of death between suicide, homicide, and accident.

The case was originally indicted on December 12, 2002, but dismissed July 14, 2004, due to insufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case.

Worthy of a second look

On September 8, 2008, Denton Record Chronicle newspaper reporter Donna Fielder, using information she received from an open records request submitted to the Denton Police Department, wrote an article about Viki’s death, questioning whether Bobby Lozano had gotten away with murder.

By that point Paul Johnson had been elected Denton County Criminal District Attorney. With the new administration came a fresh set of eyes to pull the closed file out of storage to determine if Lozano had, in fact, killed his wife.  Johnson assigned the case to us, Cary and Susan Piel, and investigator Jack Grassman. Our initial marching orders were to reopen the case file and determine whether there was sufficient evidence to support a murder charge. After reviewing the boxes of files from storage and speaking to witnesses, we were unanimous in our conclusion that Bobby Lozano had, indeed, gotten away with murder.

One of our initial meetings was with Anna Farrish, Viki’s mother. Time had not changed her position. Anna still lived in the same house—with Bobby Lozano. Her former son-in-law now shared the master bedroom with his new wife, Heidi Renee Whitehead Lozano. Anna made it very clear that she was unhappy about the article in the Denton Record Chronicle, was opposed to our reopening the case, and would not cooperate with the prosecution.

Our other meetings were with the initial investigation team. We met with Lee Howell first, not knowing what his reaction would be to reopening the Lozano case. We found out that he’d been disappointed that the original case had been dismissed, and he had an uncanny recollection of the facts, given that six years had elapsed since Viki’s death. He was unwavering in his opinion that Lozano was guilty. Though this case did not have one smoking gun—no confession, no conclusive forensic evidence—he felt the pieces added up to only one conclusion.

We also met with Jeff Wawro, former lead investigator. During our first meeting, we addressed a discrepancy we discovered during our review of the evidence. The original case file contained Wawro’s sketch of the bed, where he had drawn the exact locations of the body, casing, and gun before they were moved—but not the gun cleaning kit. The items originally on the bed, including the kit, were photographed numerous times before being moved. The cleaning kit was well photographed but its location not measured before it was moved. At the time it was moved, the significance of its exact location was not known.

During our review of the case years later, Cary used the photos to compare the location of the casing with the location of the gun cleaning kit before it was moved. The conclusion was undeniable: The casing had been lying squarely under the gun cleaning kit. If the kit had been lying on the bed before Viki was shot, how could the casing end up under the kit? Clearly, the kit was placed on the bed after Viki had been shot. The scene had been staged.

Our problem? In computer-generated sketches, Wawro had drawn the casing on the bed separate from the gun cleaning kit—he had drawn the kit in the wrong location. How could this happen? At the crime scene, the casing was not initially noticed when the blanket was cleared of gun-cleaning items. By the time it was discovered, nobody realized that the kit had been removed from that exact location. The crime scene team had taken pictures from enough angles to establish where the kit had been, but those photos weren’t immediately available to them at the scene—but they were available to us. After carefully reviewing the photographs, Wawro agreed that his computer-generated drawing was incorrect. (Months later on the stand, he was able to thoroughly explain the discrepancy to the jury.)

Cindy

Our most anticipated witness interview was with Lozano’s former girlfriend, Cindy. Her law enforcement career had ended after Viki’s death, and she had stayed with Lozano after he was previously indicted and after that case was dismissed.

Our initial meeting with Cindy lasted hours, as she detailed the course of her relationship with Bobby and the intricate web of lies he told. It was clear that even now, years later, it was somewhat difficult for her to grasp that virtually everything he told her was a lie. Lozano had told her that he attempted to save his wife’s life by moving her to the floor and performing CPR, but Cindy did not know that Viki was on the bed, not the floor, when first responders arrived and that none of the paramedics or officers believed Lozano’s claims to have performed CPR.

On the day of Viki’s funeral she spoke to Lozano for the first time since Viki’s death. At that point, she truly did not believe Lozano was involved, though she feared Viki had killed herself because of the affair. She told him that she would have to notify police of any contact she had with him and that she had told the police everything. “Everything?” Lozano asked. “Even about the ‘D’?” Understanding that he meant the divorce, Cindy confirmed that she had told investigators about it. (She and Lozano secretly saw each other during the initial investigation of the first case and during the pendency of the first indictment.)

On the same day, Lozano had given Texas Ranger Tracy Murphree his written account of that weekend, including his claim that he and Viki had gone to sleep after returning from dinner. After speaking with Cindy, Lozano knew he had been caught in a significant lie. Two days later, Lozano’s newly hired defense attorney, Rick Hagen, brought a supplement of his original statement to the police department in which Lozano confessed that he had lied about visiting Cindy on the night of his anniversary.

After the first case was dismissed, Lozano was able to collect $500,000 of the $1.1 million dollars in life insurance he had on Viki. One policy paid only months after the dismissal. The other policy, the one taken out a few months before her death, was not so willing to pay. Ultimately a settlement was reached whereby the policy’s proceeds were deposited in a trust for Monty. According to Cindy, Lozano was quite angry he was not able to collect all the money he felt he was due.

In December 2004, while still living with his mother-in-law and months after the first indictment was dismissed, Lozano proposed to Cindy. Though she accepted, a wedding never took place; a few months later, the relationship fizzled and they broke up. Though Cindy had suspicions of Lozano’s infidelity, she was not able to confirm anything, though Lozano eventually married a woman named Heidi Renee Whitehead—Monty’s preschool teacher that year.

Reindictment

In October 2008 Robert Cruz Lozano was again indicted for the murder of his wife Viki. This time there would be no dismissal. Regardless of family wishes and medical examiner findings, we felt the evidence established that Viki was murdered and that she deserved her day in court.

We let the dust settle on the indictment before we reached out to Anna Farrish again. As the mother of a murder victim, we wanted her to be included in the prosecution. Lisa Osborne, a family violence counselor in our office, contacted Anna to foster some communication. Anna refused any meeting. Lisa asked her if she could share any pictures of Viki with us for use at trial. At that point, we had no live picture to show the jury of this young mother except for her driver’s license photo. Anna refused. It was clear, though unexplainable, that Viki’s mother was completely aligned with the defendant and would not cooperate in any way.

Proving by disproving

This trial was about proving Lozano guilty by proving the impossibility or improbability of any other explanation for Viki’s death. Forensics alone would not get us there, which is why the manner of death was ruled undetermined. We set out to prove it wasn’t an accident, nor was it suicide.

An accident seemed ridiculous. First, the idea that this 36-year-old teacher would clean a gun on the bed in her half-million dollar house seemed nonsensical. Anna was adamant that the master bedroom was where the guns were cleaned in their household and that Viki was the most likely cleaner. For this to have been possible on the day of her death, Viki would not have been cleaning the gun on the bed, as much as she would have been cleaning the gun in the bed. She died lying on her side with one leg completely under the covers. She would have held the gun 3 to 6 inches away from the center of her chest, at an angle down and to the left, causing the bullet to enter her chest, pass through her heart and other major organs, before exiting her left side. Her face would have been turned away from the gun at the time of the shot. Nothing about the position of her body was consistent with an accidental shooting while cleaning the gun.

Second, there is the popcorn issue. Viki had popcorn husks down the front of her shirt and on her side. She wore loose-fitting flannel pajamas, so if she had been walking around, these popcorn pieces would have fallen out of her top. Instead, the pieces were stuck in her blood under her shirt. It defied logic that she was cleaning the gun eating a handful of popcorn. Plus, the bedroom did not have a bowl, bag, paper towel, or napkin anywhere in sight, including trash cans, that could have contained popcorn—someone clearly removed it after she died.

Suicide didn’t make sense either. One of Viki’s legs was lying flush with the mattress, bent at the knee and completely under the covers. The other leg was outside the covers, stretched straight, with her foot touching the ground. Though it was undeniably possible for her to shoot herself, it seemed an unnecessarily awkward position. Her position was more suited for watching television and eating popcorn. Her body was moved after she was shot, though, causing her right foot to dangle off the bed onto the floor. We figure that Lozano rolled her body slightly to clean up the visible popcorn pieces that had spilled when he shot her.

Though we could not call family members to the stand to negate suicide, we called coworkers who were eager to tell us how the year since Monty’s birth was the happiest they had ever seen Viki. In the weeks leading up to her death she had talked to others about long-term plans like building a swimming pool, having another child, and staying at home with Monty for several years. She had made short-term plans as well. She continued to teach piano, assigning future lessons and ordering a computer program to help her students write their own music. We even had her longtime hairdresser testify that shortly before her death, Vicki had come in to have her hair done on her normal schedule and secured her next appointment before she left. Even in Lozano’s statement, he described her as happy. Suicide seemed wildly inconsistent with her body position, her frame of mind, and her munching on popcorn in bed.

Further, her friends were adamant that Viki would not have killed herself and left her son unattended in the next room and without a mother. She waited 15 years to have that child; if nothing else, he was her reason to live.

The trial

During opening statements, Cary laid out the evidence for the jury. Before the trial had begun, we pre-admitted a great deal of the evidence by agreement, including virtually all of the crime scene photographs, the gun, and the contents of the gun cleaning kit. This allowed both parties to use the evidence in opening statements without objection or questions regarding admissibility. In opening Cary described the defendant’s controlling nature, the affairs, the insurance policy, Viki’s body position at the time she was killed, the location of the casing, and the significance of the popcorn.

Rick Hagen then presented his opening statement, focusing on the opinion of the two forensic pathologists, Drs. Sisler and Donoghue, that there was insufficient evidence to establish whether Viki’s death was homicide, suicide, or accident. Hagen also explained to the jury that Viki’s own mother supported the defendant. His other focus was to discredit how the crime scene was handled. He criticized the Denton Police Department for allowing an unnecessary number of people at the scene, failing to properly preserve it, and failing to properly secure the evidence. Everyone’s conclusion at the end of the two very effective opening statements? This was going to be a fight.

Our first witness was previous girlfriend Karen. She described her three-year relationship with the defendant, which began when she was a college intern at the police department. She testified that during the affair she and Lozano had a standing date virtually every Tuesday and Friday nights. She believed he told his wife he was working surveillance or was called out for the SWAT team on those evenings. She told the jury about Lozano’s revelation that Viki had cancer and the numerous discussions they had about her painful treatments and her slow demise—all of which was a lie.

The next witness was Cindy. She solemnly described how the affair began in the early part of 2001. For the first year of the relationship Lozano showered her with love letters, which we showed the jury in chronological order. For us, Lozano’s letters were pure gold. Many on the jury of 10 women and two men looked absolutely disgusted by Lozano’s intricate lies and manipulation preserved in the letters. (The defense had utilized not one but two psychologists to assist with jury selection. After turning in our strikes, we were surprised to see a jury comprised almost entirely of women. If it was a defense strategy, it did not work well.)

Two Denton Police employees, both with very close ties to Lozano, testified about his odd behavior at the house after Viki’s death—specifically, he would continually grimace in an apparent attempt to appear as if he were crying, but there were no actual tears. Both men also gave the same account as Lozano’s last words to Viki: “Take care,” which he said before the ME wheeled her body out of the house.

Another crucial witness for the State was computer forensic analyst Jim Willingham. Lozano claimed to have been playing a computer game called Mahjong from 7 to 8 that night. Willingham testified that the analysis of the computer revealed that though the game had been accessed, it was not actually played at all. In closing argument we explained that this lost hour was in fact when the murder occurred.

With lead investigator Jeff Wawro on the stand, the jury listened to the 911 call. Wawro used photos to show the jury where Lozano must have been standing as he made the call, in a small office niche adjacent to the master bedroom. During the call Lozano claimed to have set the phone down to check on his wife and later to retrieve his son, but there was no sound of the receiver being placed on the desk. A careful review of the tape showed that he stood in one spot the whole time, only pretending to check on Viki and pick up Monty. In his written statement he claimed to have performed CPR, yet when officers arrived less than five minutes later, he was standing by the front door, holding the child, without a drop of blood on him.

Ranger Tracy Murphree testified that he interviewed Lozano the same day he took the defendant’s written statement. In both his oral interview with Murphree and his written statement, Lozano claimed to have found Viki sitting in bed, bent at the waist, face down. He then claimed to have pushed her so she was lying on her back (the position she was in when the paramedics arrived). Murphree and Dr. Sisler agreed that her body could not have been sitting up at the time of the shooting because of the shored exit wound. Furthermore, though she bled out the entrance wound, she had lost considerably more blood out of the exit wound on her side. This was far more consistent with her lying on her side when she was shot than sitting up. Additionally, Murphree and the paramedics testified that she had lividity in her foot and her back. In Lozano’s story, she would not have fallen onto her back until after he pushed her lifeless body. It would have been impossible for lividity to have formed in her back by the time the paramedics arrived four minutes later. Lozano was lying about the position in which he found her body.

The defense case

We caught a big break as the defense began its case. They brought in a king-size bed to use for demonstrations with their expert, something we had considered but ultimately decided against because of the logistics. Larry Renner, a crime scene reconstruction expert from Sante Fe, New Mexico, rattled off an impressive resume for the first 20 minutes of his testimony. He did well for the defense on direct, testifying that the evidence was consistent with suicide and consistent with accident. At one point the defense had the jurors come down to closely examine the bloody stained bedding. It was a sobering moment in the courtroom as the sheets, covered in Viki’s blood, were spread out in the courtroom and emitted a sickening smell. The point was to show dog hairs on the bedding to back up Anna Farrish’s theory about the dogs startling Viki into shooting herself.

Renner did not hold up on cross. Cary spent the majority of it lying in the bed, sparring with Renner over the ridiculousness of his assertions. Renner became so defensive that he violated the cardinal rule of testifying and would agree only with assertions made by defense counsel. According to Renner’s theories, Viki would have been able to sit up after being shot in the heart, spleen, lung, and spleen. Renner also opined that it was possible for lividity to have formed in her back mere moments after Lozano pushed her lifeless body to a reclining position. By the end of his testimony many in the courtroom, including some jurors, were rolling their eyes at his biased testimony and even laughing out loud at him as Cary acted out Renner’s theories on the bed.

The defense then called Anna Farrish. She described Viki, her only daughter, as an overweight, lonely child with friendship issues. In contrast, she described Lozano’s impressive physique and seemed to imply that she was surprised that someone like Bobby would end up with her daughter. Though numerous teachers and administrators had previously described Viki as a completely devoted teacher, committing herself to incredibly long hours at the school for the benefit of her students, Anna claimed Viki worked the minimum required hours and asserted that Lozano had helped Viki by controlling her weight. Her testimony focused on the normalcy of Viki cleaning Lozano’s gun in the bedroom, a family history of suicide, and Viki’s suicide attempt as a teenager. Her contempt for us was very apparent and she certainly did not come across as a loving, grieving mother.

With her on the stand the defense played home movies of the family. All of the footage was of the baby, Monty. In the hours of footage Lozano, the cameraman, always had the shot focused very tightly on Monty. The movie started with Viki giving Monty his first bath, but only Viki’s hands and portions of her face were ever in the picture. There were audible gasps in the courtroom when the film captured Lozano’s voice telling his infant son, “Daddy, Daddy—that’s the only name you ever need to know. Don’t even worry about Mommy.” If we had had access to these movies, we would have offered them ourselves in a heartbeat. They were truly a gift from the defense.

Lozano did not testify during the trial. Instead, he sat stone-faced, never showing any emotion. Often during the trial the defense attorneys moved from counsel table to get a better view of exhibits, pictures, or demonstrations. Lozano always repositioned himself, too, usually carrying with him a notepad. Numerous times he was standing next to the State’s counsel table looking up at enlarged pictures of his dead wife either at the crime scene or the morgue. Not once did he show any emotion. To an outside observer he would have appeared as another lawyer in the trial instead of the grieving husband. No doubt jurors noticed his lack of concern or emotion.

The verdict

Seven years and 29 days after her death, a jury needed only five hours of deliberation to convict Robert Lozano of murdering Viki Lozano. In the punishment phase of the trial, sadly we had no family to call on Viki’s behalf. The defense called only Lozano’s older brother, Frank, also a longtime police officer in Denton County, to ask for a merciful sentence.

The jury gave 45 years. Understandably, his family was devastated at the outcome. Neither Anna Farrish, nor her son David, was present in the courtroom when the sentenced was handed down. Viki’s faithful friends were there, though, and they wept with relief that it was finally over and justice had been served.

We do not know what the future holds for Monty, who turned 8 this summer. He still lives at the same house with his grandmother, Anna, and Lozano’s new wife, who is the only mother he has ever known.

For us, though the stress and time commitment of trying this case together was extremely difficult on our own family, bringing justice to Viki Lozano, a forgotten victim, was an absolute honor.