Joseph Michael Lopez, who told Colorado detectives he killed 19-year-old Natalie Bollinger in December 2017 after she placed a Craigslist ad in search of a hitman for herself, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday.
A judge subsequently sentenced the 23-year-old man to serve a maximum of 48 years behind bars with an additional five years of probation after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, KDVR reports. He was initially charged with first-degree murder.
As previously reported by CrimeOnline, the victim disappeared on December 28, shortly after posting on social media that a man was stalking her. The man, identified as Shawn Schwartz, was later cleared. Lopez told officials that he shot Natalie, of Broomfield, to death after she placed an ad under Craigslist’s “Women seeking Men” section and took out a “hit” on her own life.
Man sentenced to 48 years in Natalie Bollinger homicide https://t.co/ZxKSQpDEH3 Joseph Michael Lopez, a man accused of fatally shooting Broomfield's Natalie Bollinger, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced Monday to 48 years in prison.
— Broomfield Colorado (@BroomfieldCol) December 3, 2018
Lopez said he picked Natalie up the night she was reported missing after the two exchanged various text messages, including one he alleged was written by the teen that said she wanted to be killed “on her knees…executed from behind.”
Lopez told authorities that he attempted to change the victim’s mind, but after driving around with the victim “for an extended period,” he decided to move forward with the shooting. He said Natalie provided the gun, and indicated the teen told him she wanted to be killed due to relationship problems she was having with a boyfriend.
Lopez told detectives Natalie “knelt down on the ground and that he knelt down along her left side and slightly in front of her,” an affidavit in the case said.
The convicted killer said he then prayed with the teen before killing her execution style, adding that he used the victim’s gun to carry out the crime. Her body was discovered in a field near Thornton the following day.
According to a coroner’s report, Natalie died after suffering a single gunshot wound to the back of her head. Natalie, a reported known drug user, also had a “potentially lethal level of heroin in the blood,” the affidavit said.
Prosecutors said Lopez should’ve offered offered the woman help instead of killing her.
“He didn’t respond as a human being,” chief deputy district attorney Ally Barber told WLKY. “He responded as a predator.”
Natalie’s father told KDVR last month that he and other family members were adamantly against the plea agreement.
“We said no and they still offered it to him today,” Ted Bollinger stated. “Our family does not agree with this or is willing to do any plea bargain. I’m dumbfounded. I’m so disappointed in the legal system in Adams County.”
Further, the father reportedly tried convincing the judge at Monday’s hearing to sentence Lopez to life behind bars, but to no avail. He also addressed Lopez at sentencing, according to Denver 7.
“You took advantage of my daughter,” he said. “She was vulnerable and drugged…..You premeditated. Brutally shot and killed my baby. I asked for an eye for an eye. You have been protected. The Bollinger family had no say in this. This is a deal with the devil.”
[Feature Photo: Natalie Bollinger/Handout & Joseph Lopez/Police Handout]