Herndon Teen Gets 48 Years for Ashburn Gang Murder

The second of three suspects in a 2016 gang-related murder in Ashburn was sentenced Monday to spend 48 years in state prison.

Oscar Fabricio Lopez Nieto, 17, in April entered pleas of no contest to charges of first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of wounding by mob, two counts of gang participation, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, and two counts of stabbing in the commission of a felony.

Circuit Court Judge Benjamin N. A. Kendrick this week handed down prison sentences of 85 years for the murder of 22-year-old Guillermo Piedra-Espinoza, 22, and another 85 years for the aggravated malicious wounding of a 19-year-old Ashburn man who also was stabbed in the Nov. 4, 2016, attack outside an Ashburn apartment complex.

In all, the judge handed down sentences totaling 280 years on the 10 charges. A plea agreement

Oscar Fabricio Lopez Nieto

between Lopez Nieto and county prosecutors capped the time he would spend in prison at a maximum of 48 years. The judge suspended 25 years of the murder and malicious wounding sentences and allowed all the sentences to be served concurrently. After his release, Lopez Nieto is expected to be deported by federal authorities. He also was ordered to pay restitution totaling $13,500.

The investigation began Nov. 4, 2016, when deputies were called to the Ashburn Meadows apartment complex for a report of a stabbing. They found a male victim bleeding from his neck, hand and leg. The victim said he had been attacked in the woods behind the apartment complex, near a creek. When deputies searched that area they found Piedra-Espinoza, who had died from stab wounds in his back. The surviving victim identified Jordy Jose Bonilla as one of the attackers. Lopez Nieto and Jose Otoniel Chicas Guevara were later identified as suspects. The three were identified as members of the MS-13 criminal street gang. Piedra-Espinoza was suspected to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang.

The victim told investigators that he received a text from Bonilla inviting him and Piedra-Espinoza to Bonilla’s apartment complex to party with some females. The victims agreed and accompanied Bonilla to a wooded area near the apartment complex. Bonilla left the woods to get the females. When he returned, he was carrying a large knife and was accompanied by Chicas Guevara and Lopez Nieto. Bonilla told the victim that he had recently joined MS-13 and had been given a mission to kill someone. A short time later, Bonilla attacked the surviving victim, while Chicas Guevara and Lopez Nieto attacked Piedra-Espinoza with knives, according to evidence provided in the case.

All three suspect entered pleas in the case. In June, Bonilla was sentenced to serve 43 years in prison, plus 25 years of suspended time. Chicas Guevara is scheduled to be sentenced later this week.

A Loudoun Sheriff’s Office detective who serves on the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force testified during Monday’s hearing that he had had encounters with Lopez Nieto, of Herndon, during the previous two years and had urged him to change his ways. “I told Mr. Lopez Nieto ‘you need to get out of this gang. You need to stop gang-banging,” Det. Tonmy Rodriguez said.

Evidence was presented during Monday’s hearing showed that Lopez Nieto was seeking to move deeper into gang life, even earning a promotion following his participation in the murder.

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Angela Vernail pointed to Rodriguez’s counseling efforts as a reason the judge should apply the maximum 48-year sentence permitted under the plea agreement. The teen was “on notice,” she said. “This is an individual who chose to stay with the gang.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Lopez Nieto told the judge that he was prepared to serve a prison sentence

“I know I failed. I know that I have to confront the consequences for my mistakes,” he said.

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