2 sentenced for deadly DeKalb beating in 2020

Two men were sentenced to prison Monday for brutally beating a man to death in DeKalb County in 2020.

Credit: File photo

Credit: File photo

Two men were sentenced to prison Monday for brutally beating a man to death in DeKalb County in 2020.

Two men, one of whom testified against the other, were convicted Monday and will spend decades in prison in connection with a 2020 brutal beating of a man in DeKalb County, according to prosecutors.

Jaheim Sims, 22, of Snellville, was found guilty of murder and assault following the attack on 56-year-old Mario Vasquez Lopez, who suffered a severe brain injury and died two years later. Sims was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while his co-defendant was given 20 years after reaching a plea deal for lesser charges of assault and gun possession, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the co-defendant’s name was not released out of fear for his safety.

On Sept. 10, 2020, Doraville police responded to an assault call on Tilly Mill Road, where officers found Vasquez Lopez unresponsive after being severely beaten. He was taken to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment.

A witness told police he heard screams outside his home and looked out to see two men punching and kicking the victim in the head at the end of his driveway, the DA’s office said. After Vasquez Lopez appeared to lose consciousness, the witness said the men didn’t stop. They then dragged his body across the street and kept beating him, according to prosecutors.

Shortly after the attack, an officer found two people who matched the suspects’ description about a quarter-mile from the scene. The witness identified them as Sims and the co-defendant.

Detectives interviewed the co-defendant, who said he and Sims were walking on the sidewalk that day when they came across Vasquez Lopez. After the victim bent over to tie his shoe, he said Sims kicked him in the back of the head, the DA’s office said. The attack continued until they saw headlights from an approaching car.

“The investigation revealed that the attack against Vasquez Lopez was random and unprovoked,” prosecutors said. “Officers found the victim still had cash, a cellphone and other belongings in his pockets. There was no evidence that Vasquez Lopez knew the defendants.”

For three months, Vasquez Lopez remained in the hospital. He underwent several procedures, including surgery to heal the brain injury from which doctors determined he would likely never recover.

In December 2020, Vasquez Lopez was flown to Guatemala to be cared for by his family at their request. He stayed there for two years, but never regained consciousness. In October 2022, he died from “delayed effects of blunt force trauma to the head,” according to the DA’s office.

Sims was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

His co-defendant pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a first offender probationer. Prosecutors said he will serve 10 years of probation after his prison sentence.