Criminal complaint: Dispute over lawn tractor preceded Des Moines woman’s murder

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Nery Lopez Morales (WHO 13)

DES MOINES, Iowa – A Des Moines murder victim was shot in the chest with a shotgun during a dispute over a lawn tractor Sunday, according to the criminal complaint against the man charged in her death.

The document says 50-year-old Nery Lopez Morales shot and killed 42-year-old Amber Burton at her home in the 900 block of Randolph Street Sunday night.

Police responded to the home shortly after 8:30 p.m. after a neighbor called 911 saying Burton seemed to be in trouble. The neighbor said she heard screaming and what sounded like a struggle, then the screaming stopped suddenly.

Amber Burton (WHO 13)

When officers arrived, they found Burton dead on the couch, with a traumatic injury to her upper torso. It was later determined to be a gunshot wound.

Witnesses told police Burton had been having a dispute with a man who lived nearby, who allegedly owed her money.

The complaint says investigators found surveillance video showing a man matching the description of Lopez Morales pull up to Burton’s home in a red GMC pickup truck with a chrome toolbox around the time of the incident. Police say the man is seen getting out of the vehicle to walk to the side door of the home.

Investigators learned that earlier in the day Burton went to Lopez Morales’ residence and re-possessed a lawn tractor she and her boyfriend had reportedly sold him. The complaint says he was very upset about the tractor being taken.

Lopez Morales was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the case Monday. He is being held in the Polk County Jail on a $1 million cash-only bond.

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