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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: A139203
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/11/2015

Repetitive and strange romantic pursuits supported stalking conviction despite the lack of overt threats. When he was 26 years old, Lopez met Rizzo, a 16-year-old. Initially, they would meet at the library and he would help her with her Spanish homework. Perez pushed for a romantic relationship after Rizzo turned 18, but she rejected his advances and did not return his numerous calls or emails. Over the next eight years, Lopez continued to contact Rizzo. The contact escalated in 2012 after Rizzo responded to a Facebook message from Lopez. He sent her a picture of a labyrinth made of small rocks in the image of her face, photographed in a location near her home where she ran daily. He sent messages about meeting her there dressed in white for a “healing ceremony.” She discovered a blog he had created about her. Rizzo asked Lopez to stop, told him that he scared her, and sought help from the police, but Lopez continued his pursuits. Rizzo encountered Perez numerous times near her home. Lopez was eventually arrested and convicted of stalking (Pen. Code, § 646.9, subd. (a)). On appeal, Lopez contended that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction because there was no evidence that he communicated a willingness to use violence against Rizzo or that he intended to instill fear in the victim. Held: Affirmed. Although Perez’s contacts with Rizzo contained no “overt threats,” the course of his conduct established a credible threat within the meaning of section 649.6. Perez’s “construction of the labyrinth, the content of his blogs, messages, letters and packages, and the persistence with which he contacted Rizzo despite being told to stop by her and the police, reveal an obsession that a reasonable person would understand as threatening.” Lopez’s persistence despite Rizzo’s statements that he was scaring her and her efforts to avoid him supported the inference that he intended to place Rizzo in fear for her safety.