GASTON COUNTY, NC – A local teen is spending his birthday behind bars, held without bond and accused of killing two people.
Jose Adan Lopez-Rios turns 18 Thursday. Investigators allege the teen gunned down 33-year-old Derreck Monique Brice and his cousin, 26-year-old Lashea Jeanine Coleman, who had cerebral palsy, on May 26.
Lopez-Rios knew the pair of cousins and had been at church with Brice the same week as the killings, according to Capt. Curtis Rosselle with Gaston County Police.
Rosselle said police are still establishing a possible motive but that the slayings were not random.
No family members for the people involved came to the hearing.
Lopez-Rios told the judge that his English was not the best.
“I understand what you’re telling me, but I don’t speak that much English,” he said.
The judge decided the teen should be assigned a court appointed attorney before considering bond, and he initially ordered the matter be revisited Wednesday when an interpreter was available.
District Court Judge James Jackson then changed his decision because an interpreter was needed for a second matter.
Court staff called an interpreter on the phone, who translated for Lopez-Rios, a common practice for first appearances involving a language barrier.
The interpreter’s phone presence didn’t change the outcome, but ensured that the defendant understood what was happening, said Assistant District Attorney Megan Rhoden.
Jackson ordered that the teenager be assigned a public defender. He stuck with his earlier decision and denied Lopez-Rios bond until a later date.
Brice and Coleman lived together, and Brice helped care for his cousin and her 1-year-old son.
Family members reportedly discovered the bodies late Thursday night after a child care worker called to say no one had picked up Coleman’s son.
Brice’s rented Dodge Charger was missing from the home where the bodies were found, and police said they found the car at the Mid-Town Motor Inn in Gastonia. Lopez-Rios was arrested Friday afternoon.