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Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena announced that Marcelino Santiago Lopez, age 20 of Inver Grove Heights, was found guilty by Judge Arlene Perkkio of Murder in the First Degree (Premeditation), in connection with the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Brandon Jose Nieves of South St. Paul on April 2, 2020, and was sentenced to the mandatory life in prison without parole.

Lopez was also found guilty of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (Intentional) and was sentenced to 173 months in prison, in connection with the non-fatal shooting of a 16-year-old male which occurred at the same time and location.

The judge found Lopez not guilty of Attempted Murder in the First Degree (Premeditation) and dismissed the remaining charges of Murder in the Second Degree (Intentional) and Assault in the First Degree (Great Bodily Harm).

Lopez was indicted by a Dakota County Grand Jury in November of 2020. Lopez waived a jury trial and opted for a Court trial.

Additional acts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint at Criminal Complaint Search. A previous news release can be viewed at County Attorney News Releases. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search.

Keena comments: “Our sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Brandon Nieves for their great loss. We are thankful for the ongoing recovery of the 16-year-old Victim.”

Keena praised Assistant County Attorneys Deanna Natoli and Emily Froehle who prosecuted this case. Keena thanked the South St. Paul Police Department for their investigation of this case.

Keena also thanked the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, the West St. Paul Police Department, the Inver Grove Heights Police Department, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who assisted with the investigation.

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