Man Held Without Bond in Beating Death

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

June 12, 2006

A man died after a fight outside of the Rio Hill apartment complex, and neighbors say they can't believe the man charged, Alejandro Lopez, would be involved.

Lopez was denied bond Monday morning. Friends and neighbors were stunned to learn that Lopez is behind bars.

Flowers mark the spot where Friday night police found Jose Ruiz-Mateos lying unconscious in the street at the Rio Hills apartment complex. The man charged with beating him is Alejandro Lopez.

Mary Elizabeth lives next door to Lopez and the two also worked together.

"He was always nice to me whenever I worked. He was always calm. I wouldn't think that anything like that would happen," said Elizabeth.

Witnesses say it all started while Lopez was outside working on his car. They say that's when two men he knew pulled up, some words were said and a fist fight followed. Friends say their problems dated back to their days in Mexico.

By the time police arrived, a neighbor had already broken up the fight and taken Lopez home. Mateos, who was badly beaten, was still lying in the street. He died Saturday at the hospital.

"I think they were drinking a little too much and things got out of hand. I don't think he should be charged with murder," said Elizabeth.

Right now Lopez is only charged with aggravated malicious wounding, but police say more charges may be on the way.

He'll remain at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail until his court date on July 20.

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