BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Twelve jurors were questioned Wednesday, February 19, in the retrial of a Bella Vista man accused of killing his six-year-old son, four were chosen to serve — one man and three women.
The man on trial, Mauricio Torres, is charged with the death of his six-year-old son. The incident happened during a 2015 family camping trip in Missouri. In that court case, a medical examiner testified that the child died as a result of being sodomized with a stick in Missouri.
Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren presided over the jury selection in the capital murder and battery case. Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith and two associates were on hand, and Mauricio Torres’ defense team was represented by three attorneys from Little Rock.
The potential jurors were questioned about their position on the death penalty, learning the difference between aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and how familiar they were with the murder case.
Many jurors stated that they were not “too” familiar with the case. One stated she only caught a glimpse of a headline on Tuesday but did not read the story. Another said she remembers the case the first time it was tried in 2016. Of those two, one was selected to serve on the jury.
Jury selection starts again Thursday, February 20, at 8:30 a.m. at the Benton County Courthouse Annex.
A total of 15 jurors will be seated, four will serve as alternates. Judge Karren expects opening statements by Friday, February 28.
BACKGROUND EXPLAINER: In 2019, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the capital murder conviction for Bella Vista resident Mauricio Torres. The court cited that the crime that happened in Missouri and the Torres’ resided in Arkansas where the child later died. That court decision also overturned Torres’ death penalty sentence.