The Mahogany Files: Drowned in the toilet, strangled by her own own bra

Following her passing, many news outlets have obliged by Carrie Fisher’s request to report in her obituary that she drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. It is a whimsical turn of phrase and speaks equally to Fisher’s sharp sense of humour and the solid(?) space acumen of George Lucas.

Mx Mahogany wonders though: is this the first time that somebody has drowned by moonlight, strangled by their own bra? Of course not. Mahogany cites Lopez v. Kane (N.D.Cal. Apr.26, 2007):

Lopez and the victim had been cohabiting for approximately seven years and had a history of physical and verbal confrontations. On April 10th, 1994 the victim and Lopez became involved in a fight while in the locked bathroom of the residence they shared with another family…. Lopez was observed beating on the victim while she was on the bathroom floor. Cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head and body along with strangulation and drowning. Lopez fled the scene and surrendered himself to the Santa Ana police 12 hours after the incident. When the officers arrived at the scene they found the victim lying on her back in the bathroom or on the bathroom floor. The victim was nude from the waist up and her blouse was located on the floor just above her head. The victim’s head was wet and her upper torso and the floor around the body was wet. Witness Ronald Rivera reported that Lopez and his common-law wife Laverne had moved in approximately nine months previously. He advised that Lopez is the brother-in-law of his wife’s brother. He reported that Lopez and Laverne had been drinking and watching television all afternoon. He stated that he became interested in a movie and lost track of them. He last observed them walking towards the rear bedroom where he presumed they were going to watch television. His attention was drawn to the yelling and screaming of his son and Laverne’s daughter, Melissa, who was banging on the bathroom door. He advised when he went over to see what was going on, he walked in the bathroom and found Laverne lying on the bathroom floor. Rivera’s son, Ronald Junior, reported that he heard a loud thud and could hear gurgling noises coming from the bathroom. He observed Lopez in the locked bathroom and Laverne on the floor. Lopez slapped Laverne on the face several times. Ronald Junior stated that he could observe the incident through the crack between the bottom of the door and the floor. The daughter of the victim, Melissa Macardo (phonetic) stated she observed Lopez striking her mother while they were on the floor. She reported that she had heard a loud noise coming from the bathroom and when she went to investigate she could hear them inside. She could hear slapping noises, and when she looked through the crack between the bottom of the door and the floor she could see Lopez on top of her mother striking her several times. Melissa tried to force her way in but Lopez had the door closed and was holding it shut. When Melissa finally gained access to the room she found her mother lying on the floor and not breathing. Lopez was gone.

Additional details are found elsewhere in the case:

The prisoner beat the victim, he strangled her with his hands and with her bra and also stuck her head in the toilet and drowned her. According to the autopsy report the scalp showed 12 separate areas of contusion and the cause of death was due to fresh water drowning and blunt force trauma.

This is Lopez’s innocent version of the events:

His version was that the victim passed out while smoking rock cocaine and that she died either due to her drug use or accidentally during his attempts to revive her. He admitted he was responsible-but only for not performing CPR or using better judgment to obtain help for the victim when she passed out. He asserted at the BPH hearing that the 11 and 13 year-old children’s powers of observation were impaired because they had been drinking alcohol, that the bra around the victim’s neck had not been used to strangle her but instead must have edged up there as he repeatedly tried to pick up the victim and she slipped from his grasp, that the hemorrhaging in her throat area that the coroner thought indicated strangulation was from him having his hand and her bra around her neck as he tried to pick her up, that he was slapping the victim to revive her rather than hurt her, that the numerous injuries to her body (including blunt force traumas to the head and a traumatic blow to the kidney that caused hemorrhaging as noted in the autopsy report) must have occurred when she fell as he picked her up a few times to revive her, that the water in her lungs noted in the autopsy report must have been her own bodily fluids drowning her, that her saliva was in the toilet because she spat in it while smoking crack cocaine, and the victim’s topless state was because her blouse slipped over her arms and head as he tried to pick her up. Lopez weighed about 25 pounds less than the victim. He claimed he pled guilty on the advice of his lawyer and offered no further explanation of the motivation for the guilty plea.

Lopez was sentenced to a term of 15-to-life in 1995.

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