Mauricio Torres’ Other Children, Stepchildren Describe Abuse During Sentencing Phase
BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) — A jury found Mauricio Torres guilty of capital murder Monday (Nov. 14) in the death of his six-year-old son, Maurice Isaiah Torres, who went by Isaiah.
The jury also came back with a guilty verdict for first-degree battery.
WARNING: The details of this case could be disturbing to some readers
During the course of three days of testimony last week, Prosecutor Nathan Smith told the jury the boy died after he was sodomized with a stick, which led to internal injuries that led to sepsis. Smith also called several witnesses to the stand, including Isaiah’s nine-year-old sister and the medical examiner, who described extensive abuse.
The defense had argued Torres did not mean to kill his son and that the stick was an act of punishment, so the charge of capital murder was not appropriate because there was no intent to kill Isaiah.
To read more about the prosecution’s case, click here.
Torres’ wife, Cathy, is scheduled to go to trial on the same charges in May 2017.
The prosecution and defense moved into the sentencing phase following the jury’s verdict. Mauricio Torres is facing either life in prison or the death penalty.
Smith told the jury he will call five of Torres’ other children and step-children to the stand. He said Torres had abused all of them in the past.
The first witness was one of Cathy Torres’ daughters and Maurcio Torres’ step-daughter She had accused him of rape twice when she was four. The allegations were made in Jonesboro in 2004. 5NEWS reported on those past allegations several days after Bella Vista police arrested the Torreses on suspicion of capital murder.
A report filed by a Jonesboro police officer March 4, 2004 shows Mauricio Torres was questioned regarding allegations that he raped a four-year-old girl. The allegations were made by the child’s paternal aunt, according to the report. Torres denied touching the child inappropriately, and the case was closed due to a lack of physical evidence and an incomplete account by the victim, the report states.
Another report filed by a Jonesboro police officer July 29, 2004 shows Torres was questioned again, this time regarding allegations of rape and sexual assault with an object made by the same four-year-old girl. The allegations were made through the Child Abuse Hotline by a counselor who was notified about the alleged sexual abuse by the child’s stepmother and biological father, according to the report.
The report states the child lived with Torres, Cathy and four other siblings. It also states the Department of Human Services put the child and her siblings in foster care in the past because of allegations of physical abuse, but the agency determined the claims were unsubstantiated.
The child told investigators Torres told her to not to tell anyone about the sexual abuse and that she never told her mother, the report states. The child’s father confirmed to investigators that his wife told him what his daughter disclosed to her, but the girl never came to him herself, the report states.
In August 2004, the child went through a sexual assault exam, but the results came back negative, according to the report.
The report states investigators interviewed Mauricio and Cathy Torres concerning the allegations in early September. Torres denied he had ever touched any of the children inappropriately and said the girl’s father was attacking him to gain custody, according to the report. Torres’ wife denied having any knowledge Torres sexually abused the children and also said the allegations were an attempt to make him look bad, the report states.
According to the March and July reports, the same investigator from the Arkansas State Police Family Protection Unit was involved in both cases.
There was a third report filed by a Jonesboro police officer on August 17, 2007. The officer looked into the reports filed in March and July 2004, according to the documents. The officer spoke with a prosecutor about the July 2004 case and was told charges were never filed against Torres and the case was closed because of lack of evidence, the report states.
The 2007 report was also closed without charges.
During her sentencing testimony, the four-year-old girl, who is now 17, described the alleged acts of sexual abuse to the jury. She said it happened multiple times and included instances of oral sex, as well as being forced to watch a sex scene in a movie.
The witness also told the jury about how Torres would make her brothers pull down their pants and then would then spank them with a belt.
Next, Smith called Quinton Martin, 21, and Nicholas Martin, 22, to the stand. The men are brothers and both are currently serving time in jail.
The brothers told the jury Torres, who was their stepfather, would force them to fight each other with their fists and do push ups and sit ups.
Quinton Martin also described instances when Torres would force him to stay up for days and would hit over the head with a piece of wood from a highchair.
When the defense asked the men why they never reported the abuse, they said they were afraid.
The jury then heard from Maurice Torres Jr., 21, and his sister Erica Torres, 23. Both are Torres’ biological children.
Torres Jr. said his father abused him and his sister multiple times a day and hit them with anything he could find. Erica Torres described life with her father as hell and also said Torres would hit them repeatedly.
Nearly all of Torres’ children and stepchildren accused him of making them perform sexual acts on each other or on Torres. Some of the witnesses also told the jury they had been raped with objects.
Defense’s Opening Statement
Torres’ attorney, Bill James, told the jury the witnesses brought in by the prosecution have never been heard from before until now.
James also described Torres’ past. Torres was born in El Salvador and his mother left him with his 17-year-old father when he was seven months old.
Torres and his father fled El Salvador when he was young following the break out of a civil war and ended up in California. Torres eventually became estranged from his family and moved to Arkansas.
The jury will hear from Torres’ father and uncle Tuesday (Nov. 15) when court resumes at 8:30 a.m.
The prosecution expects sentencing deliberation to go to the jury before noon.