Trans killer sentenced to 22 years for slaying of Portland cab driver

Moses J. Lopez, 30, showed no remorse and laughed at the victim's family in court.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
On Wednesday, a trans-identified convicted killer was sentenced to 22 years in prison over the brutal stabbing death of a Portland taxi cab driver.

Moses J. Lopez, 30, showed no remorse during the hearing and refused to apologize to the victim's family. Lopez was convicted of one count of first-degree manslaughter and one count of unlawful use of a weapon.

Lopez was given a plea deal by Multnomah County Judge Heidi Moawad, which included a guilty plea in exchange for a separate case being dismissed. That case included Lopez allegedly threatening two employees at a Coos County Bi-Mart, which occurred just days before the murder. Lopez was quickly released without bail before traveling to Portland from Coos Bay, Oregon.

Moses J. Lopez.

Lopez, a biological male who transitioned to female, was found guilty of fatally stabbing Radio Cab driver Reese McDowell Lawhon, 43, in an unprovoked attack on April 9, 2023. Lopez was riding as a passenger in the back seat when Lopez stabbed Lawhon in the neck with a pair of brass-style knuckles that had an attached blade, court documents show.

Prosecutors obtained video evidence of the murder via surveillance footage from inside the Radio Cab. Video footage shows Lopez wearing a tiara and women's clothing when the attack occurred.

Reese Lawhon

During the hearing, Lopez used her transgender identity as a justification for the killing and laughed at the victim's family in court, according to the Oregonian.

Claire Pearce, one of Lawhon's sisters, said during the hearing: "We tell our kids so many times that monsters aren’t under the bed or in the closet, but it’s all a lie."

"Moses Lopez is a monster and will always be one," she said, according to the outlet.

Lopez smiled at Pearce's comment, showing no remorse for the actions.

The defendant refused to take responsibility for the murder and gave the court a series of excuses as to why the heinous crime was committed. The excuses included losing Lopez's debit card, Lawhon entering the wrong address, and static over the radio.

Lopez claimed that 911 was dialed after things took a turn for the worse while out partying that night in downtown Portland. The 911 dispatcher told Lopez to call a cab. Lopez called a Radio Cab and claimed that Lawhon had entered the wrong address which reportedly triggered Lopez.

"I ended up in a very scary part of town where I was genuinely afraid," said Lopez, according to the Oregonian.

"I refuse to apologize for the lack of help that I so desperately needed," Lopez said, claiming that Lopez is a frequent target of harassment because of Lopez's transgender identity.

However, court documents show that Lawhon had immediately corrected the address upon picking up Lopez outside of a donut shop in the downtown corridor. Lopez stabbed him while he was driving to the correct address. Prosecutors obtained the evidence via footage from the camera inside the cab.

Radio Cab spokesperson Darin Campbell said in an interview after the hearing: "The excuses that were made in the courtroom today for (Lopez’s) actions are disgraceful."

Ginger Lawhon, the victim's mother, told the court in a remote setting: "Words cannot express the horror, pain and finality of this crime. Reese’s death was senseless and we are more than heartbroken. However, we refuse to define his life by this ending."

The Oregonian reports that Lopez was seen laughing and waving goodbye at the end of the hearing before being taken into custody to serve the prison sentence.
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