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Death penalty not ruled out in Maryland slain mom case

ROCKVILLE — The top prosecutor in Montgomery County said Wednesday his office may consider pursuing the death penalty against a man who is charged with killing his estranged wife and is suspected in the death of his stepson.

“It’s something that I think has to be considered because of the magnitude of the crime,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. He spoke a day after the body of 11-year-old William McQuain was found in a wooded area of the county following a search that spanned about 30,000 acres and involved dozens of police officers and volunteers.

McCarthy said it was still premature to discuss possible punishments for Curtis Lopez, 45. He said it wasn’t entirely clear if the crime would be eligible for the death penalty under Maryland’s stringent capital punishment requirements. The Maryland General Assembly in 2009 altered the law to limit the use of the death penalty to murder cases with biological evidence such as DNA, videotaped evidence of a murder or a videotaped confession

Lopez was arrested in Charlotte, N.C., last week and charged in the stabbing and beating death of his estranged wife, Jane McQuain. She was found in the bedroom of her home in Germantown, about 30 miles northwest of Washington. Authorities expect to charge Lopez in the death of William McQuain, and an autopsy is being done to determine how the child died.

Lopez remains in custody in North Carolina but will be brought soon to Maryland to face murder charges.

Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger revealed new details on the timeline of the case Wednesday, saying authorities have recovered video footage from a gas station a short distance from the Clarksburg location where William’s body was found. The video footage — recorded Oct. 1, the last day William is presumed to be alive — shows William with Lopez and the child “does not appear to be in any distress,” Manger said.

Separate video footage from that morning shows Lopez and the boy at a self-storage facility in Germantown, police said.

Lopez is an ex-con who spent more than a dozen years in prison in Pennsylvania for an attempted murder before being paroled in 2000, records show. Though estranged from McQuain, he had stayed in her life and had been spotted in recent weeks around her condominium complex. Police say he was also seen loading boxes from her home into her car, which was recovered in North Carolina, and one of her former boyfriends has said she feared for her safety because of recent arguments with Lopez.