The trial will move forward for a father accused of drinking himself to sleep before a fire ignited at his two-story Rancho Bernardo condo, leading to the death of his two children.
Henry Lopez appeared in court for a closed-door session Thursday that determined the case against him will continue with a preliminary hearing on Feb. 27.
Lopez faces five felonies including two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of child endangerment causing death and one count of reckless fire starting.
Lopez pleaded not guilty to all charges in December.
Crews found a melted whiskey bottle next to Lopez' bed while investigating the fire that was sparked by discarded smoking materials on Oct. 28, prosecutors said. Lopez was intoxicated that day when he found at the top of the stairs in the two-story condo on Bernardo Terrace.
His 7-year-old daughter, Isabella Lopez, was found in bed in a separate bedroom from her father. She died of smoke inhalation at a nearby hospital.
His son, 10-year-old Cristos Lopez, was found with burn injuries and smoke inhalation in his father's bedroom. He died later of his injuries.
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Prosecutors say Lopez had a blood-alcohol level at .26 percent when it was taken at the hospital. In comparison, a BAC of 0.08 percent or above is illegal to operate a vehicle in California while 0.04 percent or above is the limit for drivers of commercial vehicles.
"Essentially he drank himself to sleep in bed and passed out with a lit cigarette, which ultimately caused his condo to burn down and thus his children to die in the fire," Deputy District Attorney Kyle Sutterly with the San Diego County District Attorney's Office said.
At an arraignment hearing last month, Lopez was permitted supervised release to seek treatment for injuries sustained in the fire. As part of the order, Lopez must wear a court-issued bracelet that will notify the authorities if he has been drinking.
The children’s father had allegedly threatened to burn down the family's home weeks before the fire that killed his children, according to court documents.
In a temporary restraining order obtained by NBC 7, the children's mother, Nikia Lopez, said her husband texted her, "I will burn all of this (expletive) down" in a conversation about a missing mortgage payment.
In the request for the temporary restraining order, granted on Sept. 18, Nikia also said her estranged husband had an issue with alcohol abuse.
An online fundraising page was created to assist Nikia and her two college-age children with finances.
If convicted of all charges, Henry Lopez could face 14 years in prison.