BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A man accused of murdering his coworker at a restaurant in Gentry has requested a second mental evaluation ahead of his trial.
Martin Tavarez-Torres, 23, was arrested in 2021 and charged with capital murder. He later pleaded not guilty.
According to court documents, Gentry police were dispatched on Nov. 10, 2021, to the La Huerta Mexican restaurant at 129 Fowler Street in response to a call about a shooting.
Dispatch advised that the victim was an employee at the restaurant and was in the kitchen. The suspect was a cook at the restaurant and dispatch advised that he had fled the scene.
The victim was a male in his 40s, later identified as Fidel Mercado-Reyes. Police arrived on the scene and observed that he had an apparent gunshot wound to the back of his head.
He was taken to Siloam Springs Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A single 9mm bullet casing was recovered at the scene.
Restaurant staff told police that the shooter was the restaurant owner’s nephew, and that he had just started working the day before.
The owner reported that Tavarez-Torres had just moved to the area from Oklahoma and had stayed the night at the victim’s residence.
While at the hospital, the victim’s sister-in-law told police that she believed the incident was over a winning slot machine ticket that the victim had won at the Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs. She believed that the ticket was worth $20,000 or $200,000.
Tavarez-Torres was later found and taken into custody by Fayetteville Police Department.
During a mental status hearing on Oct. 2, Tavarez-Torres was deemed mentally fit to stand trial. However, his defense team requested another mental evaluation to determine if he knew his actions were criminal. That hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 18.