Rochester Police Department has identified James Fernandez-Reyes as a person of interest in the November 2022 murder of 12-year-old Juan Lopez.
Fernandez-Reyes was one of two people arrested last week over a triple murder that took place in Lebanon on Tuesday night, May 30.
Lopez was gunned down in Rochester on the night of Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
As LebTown reported on Sunday, Lopez’s family was outraged over perceived inaction of Rochester police in bringing Fernandez-Reyes to justice, despite what his family says is clear and incontrovertible evidence showing Fernandez-Reyes takes credit for slaying the seventh-grade student who was just weeks away from celebrating his 13th birthday and Christmas on Dec. 25.
“Our Major Crimes Unit has been tirelessly investigating Lopez’ murder and is currently coordinating with law enforcement officials in Lebanon in hopes of furthering that investigation,” said Rochester Police Department spokesperson Lt. Greg Bell in a statement distributed Monday to local Rochester media.
The announcement comes six months after Lopez’s murder, six days after the Lebanon triple murder, and one day after LebTown’s article bringing the Lopez family’s anguish to public attention. The Rochester department had outraged the Lopez family with its inaction.
“Why the f*** these detectives are not doing their jobs?” said Juan’s uncle to LebTown this weekend.
Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said Tuesday that the criminal histories of Fernandez-Reyes and Torres-Santos were researched last week as they were being charged for the Lebanon triple murder. DA Hess Graf said that Fernandez-Reyes’ history showed a juvenile charge for a firearms violation, which was adjudicated under the condition that he remain under supervision through New York State’s juvenile justice system.
Fernandez-Reyes ended up fleeing the state, with Monroe County Family Courts later issuing an arrest warrant. Hess Graf said it was not known whether Fernandez-Reyes came directly to Lebanon or went somewhere in between.
Hess Graf said that Fernandez-Reyes’ criminal history also showed that he was wanted for questioning related to Juan Lopez’s murder, although he had not been charged. It was not immediately clear why the Rochester police had not made this information public prior to Monday, nor why Lopez’s family wasn’t informed.
Hess Graf said that contact between Rochester police and Lebanon authorities is ongoing.
“We would assist Rochester and their investigation in any way that they want,” said Hess Graf. “We can obviously information share and collaborate.”
Hess Graf said that Rochester police and the Monroe County District Attorney would be responsible for following up and prosecuting any potential charges related to Juan Lopez’s murder. If Fernandez-Reyes were to be charged with another crime in New York State or elsewhere, there is a process for transporting an individual to and from another jurisdiction for court appearances, Hess Graf said. There is also a way to do court dates via video. Hess Graf emphasized that the overriding principle would be to make sure that any trials are able to proceed in a manner accordant with due process, including that defendants have time to prepare for appearances.
Hess Graf also explained that even though he’s a juvenile being charged as an adult, Fernandez-Reyes was not given the death penalty notice, as Torres-Santos was, due to the death penalty being explicitly forbidden for offenders younger than age 18
Hess Graf said she understood why Juan’s family feels an urgent need to see developments in the investigation after waiting six months for information on a potential suspect.
“Anyone that loses a loved one, they want justice,” said Hess Graf.
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