BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Jurors are now deliberating in the Mauricio Torres capital murder/first-degree battery case.
Wednesday morning’s closing arguments by prosecution and defense attorneys took about 90 minutes.
Torres is accused of killing his six-year-old son, Isaiah, in March 2015.
In 2016, he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death but the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2019 and asked for a new trial. The state’s high court ruled, “… that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to convict appellant [Torres] of capital felony murder with rape as the predicate felony because the rape occurred in Missouri, and, thus, the general verdict finding him guilty of capital murder was tainted.”
Torres could again be sentenced to death if the jury finds him guilty of capital murder during this retrial.
In the closing argument, Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith said Torres took away Isaiah’s “spirit … broke his body.”
He told jurors that a capital murder verdict is what fits the crime based on evidence. Smith said testimony from teachers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and Torres’ daughter supports his request for a guilty verdict.
Torres knowingly caused the death of a child, according to Smith.
“You’ve [jurors] seen the pictures. These crimes are awful and terrible,” said Smith, “call them by their names, ‘battery and capital murder.'”
Smith asked the jurors to only consider capital murder. “Actions and words prove Torres committed murder.”
“The truth is ugly. Mauricio said that and that’s the only thing I agree with what he said,” said Smith. “There is a match made in heaven, but this was a match made in hell for Isaiah.”
Defense attorney Bill James told jurors for them to accept evidence as it is and to remove anger and emotion out of the analysis.
“Take the evidence but don’t make it worse. It’s ugly, very ugly. We gotta’ look at the evidence,” said James.
James told the jurors that the prosecution’s case lacked evidence, citing that the doctor at the hospital couldn’t determine Isaiah’s exact cause of death. “Sepsis was missed, it can look like the flu or stomach ache,” said James.
This is a very ugly case, he said, “but it’s pretty simple. When it comes down to it no one said injuries [the stick ruptured the rectum, resulting in a deadly bacterial infection] caused death.”
James presented 10 reasons to the jurors why Torres did not “knowingly” cause death.
The examples ranged from Torres telling his wife to call 9-1-1 … and that the wife was with the children six days a week while he worked.
“I ask you to find Mauricio Torres not guilty of capital murder,” James said to the jurors.