Couple plead no contest in machete assault and arson case

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man and woman have accepted plea deals in a case where prosecutors say the couple beat a woman and assaulted her with a machete before setting her apartment on fire.

Franco Ochoa, 53, pleaded no contest Thursday to attempted murder with an enhancement for great bodily injury and faces 17 years to life in prison.

Amalia Lopez, 46, pleaded no contest earlier this month to assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm resulting in great bodily injury. She faces a prison term that could range between four to seven years.

Charges of torture and aggravated mayhem, among other offenses, were dismissed under the plea agreements.

The victim told sheriff’s investigators she was introduced to Ochoa on June 23, 2017, and let him in her apartment on Troy Street because he was nice to her. His behavior changed once inside.

She said Ochoa threatened her cousin with a machete and forced him to leave, according to investigative reports filed in court by the sheriff’s office. He later beat her, briefly left the apartment, and returned with Lopez, the woman said.

Ochoa insisted both he and Lopez, whom he introduced as his wife, would stay at the woman’s apartment. When the woman refused, Lopez hit her and Ochoa threw a jar of pickled peppers at her which shattered on her shoulder and sprayed pepper juice in her eyes, she told detectives.

The couple kept her confined inside the apartment, the woman said.

The following afternoon, Ochoa sharpened a machete and that night attacked her with it, repeatedly cutting her arms, the woman said in the court filings. He then piled up her belongings and set them on fire, she said.

Ochoa and Lopez left, and the woman said she escaped the burning apartment through a window. She had numerous deep cuts to her hands and arms.

Sentencing for Lopez is currently scheduled June 9, and Ochoa on June 17.

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