TACOMA — Alejandro Aguilera Rojas has been sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison for the murder of 21-year-old Dioneth Lopez south of Blyn in February 2020.
The sentence of 200 months was handed down to the 25-year-old Renton man Monday in U.S. District Court.
“This cruel and cold-hearted attack robbed a family of a young and vibrant daughter, sister and niece,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.
“Law enforcement, prosecutors and our specially trained crime victim advocates have worked diligently to get justice for the family of this young woman.”
Rojas pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in federal court in December. He was charged with beating Lopez to death with a tequila bottle and leaving her in the Buckhorn Wilderness area of the Olympic National Forest, just south of 7 Cedars Casino.
Lopez’s body was found on Valentine’s Day 2020 when a passerby on Forest Road 28-280 alerted Clallam County sheriff’s deputies of seeing a woman lying at the end of the road and that she didn’t respond when she was called to.
Deputies said Lopez’s body showed signs of severe head trauma and multiple lacerations, consistent with trying to ward off a homicidal attack.
Lopez had flown to Seattle from her home in San Pablo, Calif., to meet Rojas on Feb. 10, 2020. The two were allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship.
Rojas had picked up Lopez from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before they traveled to Sequim, where the two planned to go hiking with friends, according to FBI agent Colleen Sanders.
However, surveillance footage showed that Rojas and Lopez had spent at least seven hours in Rojas’ truck at the Longhouse Market near 7 Cedars Casino, according to deputies.
Rojas had been under the surveillance of both the Clallam County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI due to Lopez’s body being found on federal lands in a national forest.
One of Lopez’s friends reported her missing on Feb. 15.
Upon his arrest, Rojas, a married man, told investigators that Lopez had threatened to kill his wife and children and attempted to stab him when he struck her with the bottle and left her in the woods.
A folding knife, box cutter and broken tequila bottle were found near Lopez’s body. In addition to the wounds around her head and arms, there were several wounds around her neck and torso as well.
Rojas initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder in March 2020, but he later pleaded guilty to the charge in federal court in December 2021, prosecutors said.
The murder trial was moved from Clallam County Superior Court to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in April 2020.
“After consulting with Clallam, the decision was for us to take it,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie said.
Langlie said it is not uncommon for cases to be dismissed in Superior Court in favor of federal prosecution, if appropriate.
“The two offices look at all the issues and decide how to proceed,” Langlie said.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Washington State Patrol.