Iowa man who shot neighbor in lawnmower dispute sentenced

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A man was sentenced to up to 50 years in prison for killing his neighbor during an argument over a lawnmower.

Nery Lopez Morales, 52, was sentenced Thursday for the death of 42-year-old Amber Burton, in what the victim’s mother called “one of the most stupid reasons I have ever heard to shoot someone.”

Lopez Morales was originally charged with first-degree murder but entered a plea agreement in February to be charged with voluntary manslaughter, The Des Moines Register reported.

Court documents say Burton and her boyfriend sold a lawnmower to Lopez Morales but Burton “repossessed” it because Lopez Morales allegedly owed her money in September 2021. He drove to Burton’s house and shot her once with a shotgun while they argued, police said.

Lopez Morales also pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, intimidation with a dangerous weapon and assault during a felony. He was sentenced to consecutive terms totaling 50 years, with a mandatory minimum of 20 years before he is eligible for parole.

Lopez Morales declined to make a statement during the hearing.

Burton’s mother, Valerie Burton, said her daughter was a nurse who was raising two children, ages 11 and 14, by herself. Valerie Burton said she is now caring for the children.