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Thread: Jorge Avila Torrez - Federal Death Row

  1. #1
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    Jorge Avila Torrez - Federal Death Row


    Prosecutors said Torrez not only killed Snell but also murdered Krystal Tobias, 9, and Laura Hobbs, 8, in his hometown of Zion when he was 16.


    Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda J. Snell


    Jorge A. Torrez


    Ex-marine accused of killing Navy sailor

    A former Marine has been indicted in the 2009 death of a Navy sailor who was found slain in her Fort Myers-Henderson Hall barracks.

    Jorge A. Torrez, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Amanda J. Snell, a 20-year-old petty officer second class found dead in her room on July 13, 2009.

    The charge against Torrez, a former Marine corporal convicted in two other Arlington assaults and suspected of killing two young girls in Illinois, makes him eligible for the death penalty. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said no decision had been made on whether to seek a death sentence.

    The Washington Examiner first reported in March that Torrez was suspected in Snell's death.

    Snell's mother, Cynthia Snell, said Thursday that the charges bring some relief, but she still longs for closure.

    "I'm waiting until this is all over and I actually find out why," she told The Examiner.

    Torrez, who also goes by George, was convicted in Arlington County in October of abducting and raping one woman and robbing another in separate attacks. Those assaults also took place while he was stationed at Henderson Hall.

    He is also linked through DNA evidence to the May 2005 slayings of two girls, ages 8 and 9, in Zion, Ill., where he used to live. One girl's father spent five years in jail awaiting trial in the case before charges were dropped when the DNA match to Torrez came to light through a national database last summer. Torrez has not been charged in Illinois.

    Snell was killed on July 11, 2009, according to prosecutors, two days before her body was found.

    Military officials have refused to release details about the circumstances of her death.

    The indictment also gives no description of the slaying. It only says that Torrez killed Snell "with premeditation and malice."

    Cynthia Snell said she would support the death penalty for Torrez if he is convicted.

    "I want him punished if he is guilty to the fullest extent of the law," she said.

    Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Virginia, said in a statement that the charges are the result of police following "every lead possible to bring the person responsible for Amanda's murder to justice."

    Torrez is scheduled to be arraigned June 3.

    He is incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison in southwest Virginia, where he is serving five life sentences in the Arlington attacks.

    Jason Rucker, Torrez's attorney in the Arlington cases, declined to comment on the murder indictment.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/...#ixzz1NVbEpOOr

  2. #2
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    Ex-Marine pleads not guilty in sailor's death

    The former Marine charged with killing a Navy petty officer in her Fort Myers-Henderson Hall barracks pleaded not guilty Friday and requested a jury trial.

    Jorge A. Torrez, 22, was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge in federal court in Alexandria. Prosecutors allege that Torrez killed 20-year-old Amanda J. Snell in July 2009.

    Prosecutors and the Navy officials have repeatedly declined to say how Snell was killed and the circumstances of the slaying were not discussed in court.

    Torrez is a former Marine corporal who has been convicted in two Arlington County attacks, including one rape. He is also reportedly linked through DNA to the 2005 slaying of two young girls in Zion, Ill., where he used to live.

    Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to have Torrez remain in federal custody until the murder case is resolved. He had been serving five life sentences at a Virginia prison after he was convicted in the Arlington cases.

    He is eligible for the death penalty in Snell's slaying, but prosecutors say they have not decided whether to pursue a death sentence. The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators visited the home of the grandfather of one of the slain Illinois girls. The investigators told him they were looking for information to use at Torrez's sentencing if he is convicted of killing Snell, the Tribune reported.

    A status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/...#ixzz1PY7Z9nF8

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    Judge: Prosecutors can't get DNA sample from ex-Marine

    Prosecutors can't get a DNA sample from a Virginia former Marine — who is convicted of rape and charged with murder — to do another forensic test that could further link him to the killing of two young girls in Illinois, a judge has ruled.

    U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady ruled Friday that federal prosecutors in Alexandria can't obtain the DNA sample from 22-year-old Jorge A. Torrez because it isn't relevant to their case that he killed Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda J. Snell while the two were stationed at Fort Myers-Henderson Hall in 2009.

    Torrez, a former Marine corporal, has been linked through DNA to the 2005 slayings of 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias in Zion, Ill., where he used to live. Virginia prosecutors asked a judge to force Torrez to give a DNA sample to see if it matches another type of DNA profile that a laboratory analyzed when examining evidence in the Illinois killings. Prosecutors said in court papers they intended to use information about the Zion killings at Torrez's sentencing if he is convicted in Snell's death.

    Grady said he knew of no other cases in which authorities were allowed to gather evidence solely for use at sentencing. Defense attorney Geremy Kamens called the request "unprecedented."

    Prosecutors could pursue the death penalty for Torrez, but have not filed a notice about whether they plan to do so.

    Torrez is already serving five life sentences after he was convicted in two Arlington County assaults.

    Laura Hobbs's father, Jerry, spent five years in jail awaiting trial in the slayings of the two girls before charges against him were dropped last year.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/...#ixzz1SCBJuKwk

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    Prosecutors to seek death penalty for ex-Marine

    Prosecutors are planning to seek the death penalty for a former Marine accused of killing a Navy petty officer in 2009, according to court documents.

    Prosecutors said in a Wednesday court filing that they intend to pursue the death penalty against Jorge A. Torrez, a former Marine charged with first-degree murder in the July 2009 slaying of 20-year-old Amanda Snell, who was found dead in her Fort Myers-Henderson Hall barracks.

    Little information on how Snell died is publicly available; an indictment only says Torrez killed her “with premeditation and malice.” The killing took place while both were living at Henderson Hall.

    Torrez was convicted in Arlington County in October 2010 of abducting and raping one woman and robbing another in separate attacks. Those incidents also took place while he was stationed there.

    He is also being investigated for the 2005 killings of two young girls near Chicago; the father of one of the girls spent five years in jail awaiting trial until a DNA link made Torrez a suspect.

    Geremy Kamens, one of Torrez's attorneys, said Wednesday that he had no comment on the death-penalty decision.

    In a motion requesting an April 2013 trial date, Torrez's lawyers wrote that "the government's decision to seek the death penalty in this case transforms both the obligations of defense counsel in order to provide effective assistance and the resources that must be devoted to this case."

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/...-marine/323851

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    3-part trial sought for ex-Marine facing death penalty in 2009 slaying

    The trial for a former Marine accused of killing a Navy petty officer in her barracks room might take place in three stages.

    Jorge A. Torrez was indicted last year in the July 2009 slaying of Amanda J. Snell at Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, and prosecutors said in February that they would seek a death sentence in his case.

    The jury that decides Torrez's fate could do so in three phases: First, the jury would determine whether he was guilty. Then, if Torrez were convicted, jurors would hear arguments and decide whether he was eligible for the death penalty. Finally, the jury would determine what sentence he should receive.

    Both prosecutors and defense attorneys filed motions this week asking U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady to hold the proceedings in three parts. In most capital cases, jurors decide the case in just two phases, guilt and penalty.

    Dividing up the penalty stage, both sides say, will reduce the likelihood of juror confusion.

    Weighing both eligibility for the death sentence -- for which prosecutors must prove certain aggravating factors -- and determining the ultimate punishment "commingles two fundamentally different decisions," defense attorneys Geremy Kamens and Christopher Davis wrote in a motion.

    In determining the sentence, a jury is permitted to hear evidence, such as victim impact statements and information about crimes Torrez is suspected but not charged in, that is unrelated to the statutory factors that govern whether he's eligible for the death penalty, the defense attorneys say.

    Torrez is linked through DNA to the 2005 killings of two young girls near Chicago; the father of one of the girls spent five years in jail awaiting trial until Torrez became a suspect.

    Torrez has not been charged in those crimes, but prosecutors have indicated those killings will play a role in the penalty phase. Prosecutors wrote in their motion that separating penalty proceedings would eliminate "the prejudicial impact" of jurors hearing about nonstatutory factors, "particularly" the Illinois killings, before the jury determined eligibility.

    Torrez was also convicted in Arlington County in 2010 of abducting and raping one woman and robbing another in separate attacks. Those convictions, prosecutors say, form the statutory basis that makes him eligible for a death sentence.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/...slaying/564141
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    January 27, 2013

    Judge bars evidence of Zion double murder from federal trial


    Jury weighing Lake County man's role in Virginia death will not hear evidence allegedly connecting him to slayings of Krystal Tobias, Laura Hobbs

    By Dan Hinkel
    The Chicago Tribune

    Jurors weighing whether a man from Lake County murdered a woman in the Washington, D.C., area will not hear evidence allegedly linking him to a notorious local crime committed years earlier — the murders of two young girls in a Zion park.

    A judge barred prosecutors from mentioning the double murder Jorge Torrez is charged with committing in Zion in 2005 as they try to convince jurors he killed 20-year-old Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell in 2009 in the Virginia military facility where they both lived.

    Virginia federal Judge Liam O'Grady wrote that subjecting jurors to the "horrific story" of the murders of Laura Hobbs, 8, and Krystal Tobias, 9, would be too likely to prejudice the jury.

    Federal authorities are seeking to execute Torrez, 24, if he is convicted of the Virginia murder, and O'Grady has not barred prosecutors from using the Zion evidence during the penalty phase.

    Rules of evidence are generally more permissive during the penalty phases of federal capital trials, said David Bruck, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia and an expert on death penalty defense. Both phases are held before the same jury, he said.

    Torrez's federal trial is scheduled for April.

    Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said prosecutors are ready to proceed to trial on the Zion double murder as soon as the federal trial is over.

    The Zion crime is notable both for its brutality and because prosecutors for five years blamed the killings on Jerry Hobbs, Laura's father. He confessed to stabbing the girls after an interrogation that spanned 24 hours, and former Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller sought the death penalty.

    By 2007, defense lawyers had learned that semen evidence found in Hobbs' daughter didn't match his DNA, but Lake County authorities argued that didn't clear him. Prosecutors instead suggested that couples had sex in the woods where the girls were found and she could have touched the fluid and wiped herself.

    Hobbs' was one of four cases in which Waller continued prosecuting a suspect after blood or semen evidence indicated his innocence. All four cases have collapsed.

    Prosecutors' case against Hobbs disintegrated in 2010 when the DNA led police to Torrez. He had been arrested outside Washington in a string of attacks on women — including an abduction and rape — and his DNA matched the sample from the Zion crime in a database, according to court records. Hobbs was freed after five years in jail, and Torrez was charged last year.

    Since 2010, Torrez has been serving five life sentences for Washington-area attacks. In 2011, he was charged with killing Snell, who was found stuffed into a wall locker, her head covered with a pillow case, according to O'Grady's ruling. The judge wrote that Torrez's semen was found on her sheets.

    While O'Grady has barred the Zion evidence, he decided to allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of the Washington-area attacks because of their similarities to the Snell case, among other reasons. Prosecutors will also be allowed to allege that Torrez was familiar with chokeholds and had viewed violent pornography.

    Attorneys for Torrez declined to comment.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...ce-laura-hobbs

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    Man accused of killing girls in Zion to go on trial in Virginia slaying

    Federal prosecutors will use Lake County evidence in argument for death penalty in 2009 crime.

    One of the most significant criminal trials in Lake County's recent history is scheduled to start Monday, not in Illinois but in suburban Washington, D.C.

    With the possibility of lethal injection looming, Zion native and former Marine Jorge Torrez is expected to go on trial in an Alexandria, Va., federal courthouse in the 2009 killing of a 20-year-old Navy sailor in the barracks building they shared.

    Lake County authorities will be tracking the federal proceedings. If Torrez, 25, is convicted, federal prosecutors seeking to put him to death plan to show evidence at his sentencing that years before the sailor's slaying he brutally stabbed two girls to death in a Zion park in 2005.

    The federal trial could be both informative and humbling for Lake County law enforcement. The trial and potential sentencing stand to accentuate the fact that Torrez was free for five years while Lake County authorities blamed the father of one of the victims for the Zion killings, a theory prosecutors resolutely defended even after DNA indicated they were wrong. Authorities allege Torrez murdered the sailor and committed a rape and abduction while Jerry Hobbs sat in jail awaiting trial in the girls' deaths.

    Lake County prosecutors reversed course, freeing Hobbs in 2010 and charging Torrez in 2012. Authorities allegedly linked Torrez by DNA to the Zion case after he was arrested and charged with rape and abduction, among other crimes, in Virginia. He's currently serving five life sentences for those crimes.

    The federal trial's potential sentencing phase could be instructive because prosecutors could show jurors evidence of the Zion crime in advance of Lake County trying him, said State's Attorney Mike Nerheim. If Torrez is convicted, Nerheim said he would send a top deputy to observe.

    "Basically, (federal prosecutors) would be trying our case," Nerheim said. "We don't often have an opportunity to watch somebody try the case that we would then (try)."

    No matter what happens in the federal trial, Nerheim plans to try Torrez promptly afterward in the girls' deaths, which has haunted Lake County.

    "This is a case that is very important to this community for a lot of reasons," Nerheim said.

    Opening statements are expected Monday in Virginia as federal prosecutors try to convince jurors that Torrez killed Amanda Snell, a Navy petty officer from Las Vegas who hoped to become a special education teacher. Prosecutors contend in court records that Torrez strangled Snell with her laptop cord "in order to obtain sexual gratification." Other court records indicate authorities have DNA evidence pointing to his guilt.

    One of the defendant's lawyers, Robert Jenkins, said attorneys will argue Torrez was "not legally responsible for her death," though he declined to discuss any evidence supporting that. Torrez maintains his innocence of the other crimes of which he's been accused or convicted, the lawyer said.

    Torrez appears poised to become part of a small group of defendants to face a federal death penalty trial. Between the federal death penalty's reinstatement in 1988 and October 2013, attorneys general have authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty 492 times, according to the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel. From that group, 287 defendants went to trial.

    Because of acquittals, plea bargains, court rulings and jury decisions to give sentences other than death, the federal government has executed only three people in the last 25 years. One of them was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

    Asked about potential plea negotiations with prosecutors, Jenkins said, "We have explored those options and we are obviously set for trial."

    Prosecutors said they expect the trial's "guilt" phase to last two weeks. If he's found guilty, Torrez would proceed to a sentencing phase that lawyers would expect to last several more weeks. A trial's sentencing phase can be more exhaustive than the initial phase, experts said.

    "The sentencing phase is often a presentation by both sides about the defendant's life and entire life history," said Kevin McNally, director of the resource counsel, which assists with the defense of death penalty cases.

    Attorneys are barred from mentioning the Zion killings during the guilt phase, but court records indicate that prosecutors plan to spend much of the prospective sentencing hearing on the slayings of Krystal Tobias, 9, and Laura Hobbs, 8.

    Lake County authorities focused on Laura's father, Jerry, immediately after the girls' stabbed bodies were found in a park. Detectives were suspicious of Hobbs' lengthy criminal record and felt his grief appeared insincere. Following about 24 hours of intermittent questioning, he confessed.

    In 2007, DNA tests showed that semen found inside Laura's body didn't belong to her father. Prosecutors under then-Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller whose office repeatedly continued prosecuting men despite forensic evidence of their innocence insisted the DNA didn't disprove Hobbs' guilt because the girl could have played in an area where couples went for sex.

    Hobbs sued various Lake County authorities, signing settlements worth nearly $8 million.

    If Torrez is found guilty in Virginia, prosecutors plan to use exhibits including photos of the scene, the girls' autopsy reports, DNA evidence, pictures of knives and recorded clips of Torrez, including one of Torrez speaking from prison with a Tribune reporter.

    Several members of the girls' families declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,1376300.story
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    Death penalty case goes to jury in sailor's death

    A jury has heard closing arguments in a death-penalty case against an ex-Marine accused of killing a fellow servicemember back in 2009.

    During Monday's closings in federal court in Alexandria, lawyers for Jorge Torrez sought to explain away a jailhouse confession Torrez made to another inmate as a boastful lie.

    Prosecutors say Torrez killed Navy sailor Amanda Snell and then stuffed her body in a wall locker in her barracks at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington County. Authorities say the killing was one among a series of stalking attacks against young women. Torrez is already serving a life sentence for three of those attacks. If convicted of Snell's killing, he could get the death penalty.

    In addition to the confession, Torrez's DNA was found inside Snell's quarters.

    http://www.wrex.com/story/25182690/d...-sailors-death
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    Ex-Marine guilty of murder, could face execution

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) An ex-Marine has been convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of a fellow service member, and now faces a possible death sentence.

    A jury in federal court in Alexandria convicted Jorge Torrez Tuesday of murdering Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell in July 2009. Both lived in the barracks on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

    Prosecutors said Snell's murder was part of a series of violent, stalking attacks on young women. He is already serving a life sentence for abducting three women in Arlington, raping one of them repeatedly and leaving her for dead.

    He is also charged with the murder of two young girls in 2005 in his hometown of Zion, Ill.

    Prosecutors will ask the jury to sentence Torrez to death when the trial resumes April 21.

    http://www.fairfieldcitizenonline.co...on-5386135.php

  10. #10
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    Man orders lawyers not to fight death penalty

    An ex-Marine facing possible execution for the 2009 murder of a fellow service member has ordered his lawyers not to make any arguments or effort to spare his life.

    A federal jury in Alexandria convicted 25-year-old Jorge Torrez earlier this month of the murder of Navy sailor Amanda Snell at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

    Prosecutors say Snell's murder was one among a series of sexually motivated attacks on northern Virginia women.

    As the sentencing phase of the trial began Monday, the judge told jurors that Torrez ordered his attorneys not to contest the government's case.

    Torrez' lawyer, Robert Jenkins, declined comment on whether his client has expressed a preference for execution. But he said it is not uncommon for defendants in capital cases to prefer execution over life in prison.

    http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-re...093bf41a3.html
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