Warning: Some details of this case are graphic in nature and may be uncomfortable for some readers. Discretion is advised.

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A jury found Mauricio Torres guilty of battery in the first degree and capital murder in Benton County circuit court after four hours of deliberation on February 16.

Torres had already been convicted twice for the abuse and killing of his six-year-old son, Isaiah Torres, during a weekend camping trip in 2015. The first was overturned on a sentencing technicality, and the second was declared a mistrial when Torres’ stepson jumped out of the witness stand and attempted to attack him during sentencing.

The proceedings began just after 8:30 a.m. with Judge Brad Karren expanding on the instructions that he has provided to the members of the jury on a daily basis throughout the duration of the trial. He noted that they are “essential to the administration of justice” and that they are mandated to “apply the law as contained in these instructions.”

“You are the sole judges of the weight of the evidence,” he added. He also noted that it is their responsibility to determine the credibility of witness testimony they have heard.

He also reminded the jurors that Torres is presumed innocent until the jury is “convinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” He instructed them to do that through “impartial consideration of all the evidence.”

The judge then noted that the jury could consider lesser charges of first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide. He then reminded them that the offense of capital murder requires evidence that the defendant knowingly committed an act that was “practically certain” to lead to his son’s death.

Prosecutor Nathan Smith began his closing argument at 9:03 a.m. with a quote from “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by English poet John Keats.

“Beauty is truth. Truth, beauty,” he recited. He quickly pivoted away from the subject of beauty as he noted that the “abuse, torture and murder of Isaiah Torres” was “grotesque and repugnant.”

“The last chapter of Isaiah’s story is playing out in this courtroom,” he explained. “It’s time to do justice in this case. That’s what I’m asking you.”

He addressed the battery charge swiftly and simply by saying “I’m going to spend no time talking about it” due to the preponderance of evidence of the boy’s chronic abuse. He then referred back to a metaphorical “empty cup” of evidence that he described to jurors during voir dire by telling them it was now time to fill that cup with “building blocks of evidence.”

He used the courtroom monitors to display PowerPoint images and began by presenting two key subjects he felt were at issue: the determination of “extreme indifference to the value of human life” and the definition of “knowingly” acting as applied to the capital murder charge. He also reminded the jury that Isaiah’s chronic child abuse was a contributing cause to his death.

“There was no intervention,” Smith said. “And finally, there was a homicidal act.”

Isaiah Torres

He added that if the testimony from the boy’s teachers as well as the autopsy photos did not prove a clear pattern of chronic child abuse, then “that phrase has no meaning at all.”

He continued by explaining that there was no rape charge in the case because the sodomy occurred in Missouri. He then returned to the case’s ever-present subject of “power, control and humiliation.”

He said that the act that killed Isaiah “speaks for itself” in that regard. “Mauricio knew what was wrong with his son,” Smith said, which caused the defendant to vigorously shake his head at the defense table.

On the subject of what constitutes “knowingly,” the prosecutor called that “utter common sense” and reminded the jury that a medical examiner had ruled that “assaultive force” was used to kill the victim.

“The defendant tells you,” Smith said to the jury before playing an excerpt from a police interview of the defendant during which Torres said “I put it in there” and acknowledged “there’s organs in there. It’s common sense.”

Torres also physically demonstrated the act of inserting a stick during the video.

“I don’t know how we could have stronger evidence,” Smith declared. He added that he was “mystified” by the defendant’s recurring sentiment that the boy was only suffering from a stomach ache, calling Torres’ claims “simply untrue.”

After more video, Smith noted that Torres was “adjusting what he is saying” during a process he admitted was “fishing” for information. Smith changed the subject to accompany a new video graphic as he asked, “What is the defendant concerned about?”

The next clip featured Torres telling Bella Vista Police Captain Tim Cook that the defendant had “figured it out,” followed by him saying that he thought that the police had “made a deal” with Cathy Torres. Smith proceeded to categorize Torres’ behavior as “minimizing the evidence.”

“He’s giving what he thinks he must give,” Smith explained. “You see his admissions change.” He also pointed out that Torres’ own testimony indicated that he had inserted the stick that killed his son.

He called Torres’ ongoing references to long work hours and his weight loss an attempt to “explain the inexplicable.” He also reminded the jury that the defendant repeatedly discussed how he was “on cloud nine” at the time of the murder.

The prosecutor also called Torres’ attempts to implicate his daughter “horrible and offensive” to a degree that they were “almost impossible to believe.” He added that Madison was the only one with no reason to lie.

He continued by reminding the jury that the most vulgar and graphic aspects of Isaiah’s abuse before his death, including being forced to sleep in a dog cage, were all corroborated by his sister’s testimony and other evidence in the case. Smith then said that the boy’s physical state at the time of his death “would be impossible to believe” without the autopsy photographs.

The attorney also addressed how Torres “blame-shifted” when he began attributing the child’s fatal injury to his wife and daughter.

“Somehow he just fell,” Smith said incredulously. “Completely absurd.”

“I want to make sure you’re clear on how the law works,” he said to the jury when it came to the subject of potential lesser offenses. He explained that the judge had instructed them to consider the most serious charge, capital murder, first. Lesser charges could only be applied if the jury disagreed regarding the first charge.

“The evidence supports and demands a conviction for capital murder,” he said in conclusion.

At 9:38 a.m., defense attorney Bill James began his closing argument and repeated a suggestion he had provided to the jurors at the beginning of the trial.

“Take a deep breath,” he implored, with that sentiment also displayed in large, block letters on the courtroom’s monitors. He then reminded them that it was their burden to reach a decision “based on the law” and the facts that had been proven in court.

“It’s easy to just go ahead and check the boxes,” he noted. “Sometimes the law doesn’t take you to where you want it to.”

He also said that emotion should not be a factor in the process.

“Let’s keep emotion out of this,” he said. “Don’t take it into the jury room with you.” He addressed the battery charge honestly, saying that he agreed with the prosecution.

“It is what it is,” he said.

The next graphic of block text read, “Pictures are evidence.”

“Was he aware that it was practically certain to cause the child’s death?” he asked. “That’s the issue.”

James then noted that Isaiah was not killed by chronic abuse but sepsis, a condition that can be difficult to diagnose. He also called it “important” that Isaiah was not diagnosed as malnourished at the time of his death.

“There’s no evidence that that is part of the abuse,” he stated. He also reminded the jury that an emergency room doctor had missed sepsis because there was “no obvious rectal trauma.”

He then made the defendant’s wife his focus, reminding the jury that she ran the house, managed the family finances and controlled the children. He again said that the defendant worked long hours and was “rarely home.”

“He felt that she was the key to his future,” James said. As for Torres being blinded by his love for her, the defense attorney saw things slightly differently.

“I think he loved the idea of Cathy,” he offered, before once again describing how his client had been “chasing the American dream.”

He doubled back to the idea of intent by describing other events on the day of Isaiah’s death, and voiced skepticism that the defendant had veered from those to murder.

“A fun walk and volunteering,” he said. “And then we’ll see if we can kill a kid.” He apologized immediately for that “crass” characterization.

“Mauricio was not aware of the severity of the injuries” was presented on another slide. James noted that the defendant had treated his son like he simply had a stomach ache.

“It doesn’t make sense otherwise,” James said. He also cited the testimony of a kindergarten teacher who said that the boy often suffered from them.

James then stated that the victim “crashed fast” upon the family’s return to Arkansas, and scoffed at the idea that there was any attempt to drag things out before calling 911. He then moved on to Cathy Torres’ testimony and demeanor, both on the witness stand and during the 911 call.

“Cathy shows no emotion on the call,” said the next graphic. James observed that she also “didn’t even blink” when shown a photograph of her dead son’s organs. As for her husband being the controlling one, he spoke to that as well when he called his client a “broken down, messed-up unit over here.”

He reiterated the sentiment that Mauricio tried to save Isaiah by performing CPR, placing a CPAP machine on his face and leaving a door open and a light on before an ambulance arrived on scene.

James did concede that there were some contradictions in the defendant’s testimony.

“There’s some lies,” he admitted. “He’s fishing and he said he’s fishing.” He added that Cathy entered a guilty plea to capital murder but only “made some halfway admissions to knowing something” during her testimony.

The defense attorney then took issue with Madison’s testimony, calling the degree to which her story changed “preposterous.”

“She can say anything she wants because everyone believe her,” he said of the now 15-year-old girl. “The more horrible, the better.”

James then repeated the claim that the defendant was never aware that Isaiah could die due to his actions. He also explained that Torres “doesn’t express himself the best.”

The defense attorney referenced a Billy Joel lyric from “The Stranger” to categorize the Torres couple’s relationship, saying that “sometimes we know that dark person we’re with.” He then deemed his client’s decision to implicate himself in the murder a “kamikaze plan.”

“Mauricio was trapped,” he added. He also said that the defendant “certainly made the wrong choices in this case.”

He then compared the assortment of potential lesser charges to a Taco Bell menu.

“It’s generally the same meat,” he said. He ran through the aspects of the different charges and reminded the jury about their instructions regarding reasonable doubt.

He said that Mauricio’s cup of being “aware” of committing capital murder was empty.

“He’s going to be guilty of something, I’m assuming,” he noted. “Find him guilty for what he did.”

Judge Karren called for a short recess at 10:32 a.m.

At 10:48 a.m., prosecutor Nathan Smith began his rebuttal by agreeing with something James said.

“This case is difficult to look at,” he said. He then transitioned right to the defendant’s claim about being unaware of the cause and manner of death.

“That was a lie,” he said, slowly and loudly enunciating each word. “He was the one who did it to him.”

He added that Torres’ repetition of lies didn’t make them true. He called the very existence of that claim “an absurdity” considering “the defendant’s own words” about common sense regarding the killing. He also took issue with the defendant referring to “whatever happened.”

“We know what happened,” Smith reminded the jury. “This homicidal act occurred in the context of this abuse. These pictures are absolutely evidence of all that.”

Smith added that Torres’ attempts at separating the incident from the boy’s death were “nonsensical.” He added that the victim was “hanging on by a thread” toward the end of his life.

“Kids aren’t going to Walmart randomly stealing food,” he said as he characterized the boy’s actions as “foraging for himself.”

He also verbally deflected the defense’s attempts to make this trial about the defendant’s wife.

“I’m not asking you to think anything good about Cathy Torres,” he explained. “She’s a murderer.”

Cathy Torres

But he noted that all of the evidence indicated that the defendant’s best-case scenario was that he was “equally guilty,” as well as Isaiah’s primary abuser.

“Madison told you,” he said. “Any day could have been the day when they killed this child.”

Smith’s voice increased in volume when he noted that Torres was fully aware of what killed his son.

“If he had known,” he said sardonically before turning to look at the defendant. “You know good and well.”

Another thing he says Torres knew was that he would go to jail the first time a medical professional saw Isaiah’s injuries. He repeated that the defendant knew exactly what happened that was killing the victim, and he described the use of Pepto-Bismol as a “hail mary.”

“Maybe he won’t bleed out,” Smith said with an edge in his voice. “Maybe he won’t die.”

But when that happened, he explained that finally calling 911 was the only option, because with a dead body in the house, “There is nothing else to do. And then this series of stories begins.”

The prosecutor remained emotional as he then described “one of the most amazing things I heard” that he “did not believe” he would hear in a closing argument: the defense’s assertion that Madison’s testimony was an attempt to save herself.

“This is what the defense is willing to have you believe,” he mocked. “It is offensive and flies in the face of all the evidence.”

Smith then told the jury that shoelaces were found behind the sink in the camper, and Madison must have been “an astonishingly good witness” to come up with that observance if she didn’t really know it. He called that “devastating for the defense.”

He agreed with the defense one more time, saying that Mauricio and Cathy Torres were both responsible, but he focused on the actions of the defendant in this case.

“The evidence here shows you he is guilty of capital murder,” he stated. “The evidence here against him is overwhelming.”

Next, he picked at the “latest version” of Torres’ story, saying that the man “leaned into” the new idea that Isaiah fell.

“It makes no sense at all,” Smith said. He noted that the events Torres previously described in which he inserted the stick in his son’s rectum were a “far simpler and more credible explanation.” He also pointed out that Torres had told Cook it wasn’t the first time he had done that to the victim.

The prosecutor then advised the jury not to confuse premeditation with the key term of “knowingly” committing an act that would result in death.

“Don’t be confused on the mental state,” he advised, noting the “unmistakable proof of what he knew at that time.” He then repeated Torres’ comment about common sense regarding such an injury involving internal organs.

“Do justice,” he implored. He observed that for almost eight years, Mauricio Torres had “not been held to account.” He also instructed the jury to look at the highest charge, capital murder, first. And if the 12 jurors agreed about that, then there was “no more need to look at any of the lesser charges.”

He cited the difficulty of the case, but stated that the state had “met our elements” for a capital murder charge.

“I know I won’t forget what I have seen,” he told the jurors. “But justice must be done.”

He concluded that the defendant took his inherent “malice, cruelty and depravity” and then “poured it into the life of Isaiah Torres.”

“The case is yours now,” he told them. “I ask that you do justice.”

Judge Karren released the jury to begin their deliberations at 11:12 a.m. They returned with the guilty verdicts approximately four hours later.

The sentencing phase is scheduled to begin tomorrow. Torres is facing the death penalty, but his attorneys intend to present mitigating circumstances in an effort to have that reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.