Slaying suspect swaps lawyers, bumps hearing

LAWRENCEVILLE - A hearing for a 17-year-old accused of gunning down a pedestrian was continued Thursday after the suspect's family elected to hire its own lawyer.

Investigators have charged Pascual Lopez, of Norcross, with the murder of Aurelio Vasquez, 30. Vasquez was shot in the head while walking home from a nearby store July 22 in greater Norcross, police said.

Lopez's attorney, Chamblee-based Nathan Blau, motioned to have his client's probable cause hearing continued Thursday morning in Gwinnett Magistrate Court. Blau said he was hired by Lopez's family Wednesday and has not had time to review the case.

"Given the severity of the charges, I think (the case) has to be investigated," Blau said. "At this point, it's just too early" for a hearing, he said.

Lopez dropped an attorney appointed to defend him by the court, Blau said.

The hearing could have shed light on Lopez's alleged motive for shooting Vasquez.

Police believe the teen knew the victim, but the dynamics of their relationship were still being investigated upon Lopez's arrest, police said.

Investigators said Vasquez was killed while walking to his residence at the Wyncliff Pines Apartments, located on Graves Road, near South Norcross-Tucker Road and northeast DeKalb County.

Witnesses told police Vasquez was confronted by two suspects before shots rang out. He was dead when police arrived. Police have said more arrests are possible in the case.

Blau declined to discuss the case further, other than to say his client is "doing fine."

Lopez remains in the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.