Suspect in girl's shooting confesses to our cameras

December 15, 2011 4:07:41 AM PST
A man on the run for weeks after a shooting that left an eight-year-old girl partially paralyzed is finally in the Harris County jail. And as he was taken in, he made an unbelievable confession to our cameras.

The long sleeves and pants concealed most of Derrick Lopez's tattoos as he said hello to Harris County once again.

"Just experiencing life," he told us.

He spent almost three weeks on the run, which was financed by two girlfriends, investigators say.

"Are you a pimp?" we asked him.

"Um so-called," he replied.

And the oldest profession...

"How are you living all this time?" we asked Lopez.

"Um, women," he said.

"They're making money for you?"

"No they just love me. I'm just a fortunate man."

Lopez is accused of shooting eight-year-old Desiree Mendoza during a drive-by at her grandmother's house in February. The girl was in the back seat of a vehicle parked out front. She was shot in the back and her parents feared she'd never walk again.

"She went from running around to walking on forearm crutches and not being able to run," said Mendoza's father, Pedro Delesma.

Lopez was charged, bonded out of jail in early November and then skipped town. Officers with the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force tracked him to New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington DC and then to Philadelphia, where he was finally arrested.

"They saw him walking into one of the hotels, in the lobby and took him into custody," Deputy US Marshal Alredo Perez said.

On Wednesday afternoon, after a little pandering, Lopez was fingerprinted and then walked to jail.

"I apologize to her and her family," he told us.

"So you admit that you did it?" we asked.

"I've admitted from the beginning that I was the one that pulled the trigger," he said.

Lopez says he is remorseful, didn't meant to hurt anyone and is willing to cut a deal, though he believes the one he's been offered is based how he makes his money and not the little girl's injuries.

"Everybody wants to know if I'm a pimp," he said. "For that, I do deserve a lot of time, I truly do, but to be handed this because I'm an alleged pimp is senseless. It makes no sense. Hand me the time for the crime, that's fine -- I'll sign for 25, 30 years, I'll go do that. But to want to give me 50 or life just because I'm a pimp..."

Lopez was scheduled to face a judge late Wednesday night on a new bond jumping charge. The original shooting charge, if convicted, carries a two to 20-year prison sentence.

Mendoza's mother says she's doing better but she still can't fully feel her right leg. She also says she doesn't care if Lopez feels badly because she feels badly every time she sees her daughter struggle.

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