Clallam Bay man sentenced to 41 years for June 2023 murder

Ojeda-Ibarra pleaded guilty in December

PORT ANGELES — A Clallam Bay man has been sentenced to life in prison for the June 2023 murder of his stepdaughter that Clallam County Superior Court Judge Simon Barnhart described as “a most disturbing act of violence.”

Cipriano Ojeda-Ibarra, 56, was sentenced to 41 years Tuesday morning. He pleaded guilty in December to one count of first-degree premeditated murder with special allegations of domestic violence and firearm enhancement, two counts of second-degree assault with a special allegation of a firearm enhancement and one count of possession of a stolen firearm.

Ojeda-Ibarra shot 39-year-old Charlotte Louesa Lopez in the head with a stolen .357 revolver at her travel trailer in Clallam Bay on June 28, 2023, and threatened to shoot a man and woman who also were at the travel trailer.

Barnhart said given the bewildering circumstances surrounding the murder, it was impossible to know how to address it.

“I believe the standard sentencing range of 360 months (30 years) is appropriate,” Barnhart said. “Taking into consideration the consecutive enhancements for counts one, two and three, it is such a substantial amount of time (11 years) to satisfy the court that it would be appropriate.”

Prosecutors had recommended 43 years and four months, including 11 years for the firearm enhancements.

Prosecuting attorney Steve Johnson said Lopez did not deserve her fate.

“To be murdered by the person who essentially was her father,” Johnson said. “He should have been helping her, not hurting her. It was a brutal and violent death.

Johnson called the scene “grisly.”

“I don’t think many people will forget what they saw outside and insider the trailer,” Johnson said. “He claims it was a mistake, an accident. His actions show it was the opposite.

“He did not try to help, weep over the body or call 9-1-1,” Johnson continued. “Instead, he threatened others. Then he hid the gun and attempted to escape responsibility.”

The case had several victims, including Lopez and the two people who watched their friend be murdered, he said.

“(The female assault victim) talked about the sound she heard of her friend hitting the floor,” Johnson said. “They still hear it. This is a set of crimes, particularly the murder, that is hard to fathom. It is a crime that shocks the conscience.”

Stephanie Sullivan, crime victim advocate from Healthy Families of Clallam County, read a victim impact statement that noted Lopez had two children and the day’s memory will forever be etched in the mind of the woman whom Ojeda-Ibarra threatened to kill.

“I will never understand how the man who raised her could take her from this world,” Sullivan said, reading from the statement. “All I could hear is her screaming as he stood in front of her. He pointed the gun at us multiple times and told us he should have killed us too.

“We both don’t know why he let us go,” Sullivan continued. “He should serve the full sentence. The fear I felt that day has not gone away. The world is no longer the place it once was. I’m afraid he will come after me and my children.”

Defense attorney Doug Kresl said he has been doing legal defense work for 25 years and this was a difficult case.

“The more I dug into it, the more questions were raised,” Kresl said. “He grew up in Mexico with gangs and murder, but nothing to indicate what would happen 50 years later. Nothing points in that direction.

“He was married for 30 years,” Kresl added. “Alcohol does seem to be a part of this, but there’s no narcotics or anything to indicate or explain what happened.”

Kresl said Ojeda-Ibarra knew he would be convicted if it went to trial and he wanted to avoid things such as the forensics, autopsy photos and crime scene photos being burned into family members’ minds.

Before imposing the sentence, Barnhart said: “This is a case that is tragic in all the ways described. Assault with a deadly weapon. Family and friends who experienced loss. A most disturbing act of violence.

“The state has no information regarding what caused this; what led him to that moment and that decision. There is a temptation to venture to the far end of the (sentencing) range because of the horrific events. There’s no way to go to the low end for those reasons.”

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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