Man pleads insanity after allegedly killing female co-worker with pipe

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Aaron Lopez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, Monday, by reason of insanity. (KFSN)

Attorneys for a man accused of killing a co-worker on the job say he has several different health issues, and that his bizarre behavior at the crime scene is part of his defense.

Aaron Lopez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on Monday by reason of insanity.

His attorneys said Lopez was not in his right mind when he killed Outi Hicks last year at a job site in Fresno County. In fact, they say he never even tried to leave. Officers found Lopez sitting in his truck at the scene.

On Monday, Gerald Schwab said his client has many deep-seeded and challenging issues.

"The doctors at Atascadero were able to say that's he's been dealing with schizophrenia his entire life. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as two other mental health disorders that were diagnosed," Schwab said.

Fresno County Sheriff's detectives say Lopez was moving scaffolding with Hicks when the two got into an argument.

He's accused of hitting her in the head repeatedly with a heavy metal pipe. She died a short time later. Schwab said right before and after the murder, Lopez was acting strangely.

"What we would be trying to do is show that it was a rash, impulsive act, that this murder wasn't premeditated, number one, and number two that it was a product of his mental illness. He couldn't understand the nature or wrongfulness of his act," Schwab said.

Lopez is being treated with medication that his attorney said has improved his mental health. He is also seeing a therapist at the jail.

The proceedings will move forward as normal now since he's currently competent. If convicted, he could serve 25 years to life in prison.
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