BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Mauricio Torres and attorneys for both sides participated in a virtual pretrial hearing in the Benton County Circuit Court, Division 2, on the morning of January 14.
Judge Brad Karren ruled that the trial will commence on January 30, 2023, with no objections from either side regarding the lengthy delay.
Investigators say Torres sexually assaulted his 6-year-old son Isaiah with a stick while on a family camping trip in Missouri in 2015, resulting in the boy’s death a day later. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The virtual hearing lasted for approximately 12 minutes. The Judge noted that part of the reason for the delay is the need to “balance public safety with unnecessary risk” regarding the recent increased COVID-19 numbers in the county.
Speaking for the defense, attorney Jeff Rosenzweig also noted that they are still awaiting court transcripts from Torres’ second trial, stating that they will need them “significantly in advance” of trial in order for defense expert witnesses to analyze them.
The Judge stated his belief that “90 days is a good estimate” on the availability of those transcripts.
The final matter of business was having all parties agree on the timing of the next pretrial conference. After multiple trial calendar conflicts arose, the court ultimately settled on April 15 at 8:30 a.m.
Once the defense officially confirmed they had no objection to moving the case to 2023 on the grounds of the defendant’s right to a speedy trial, the virtual court session was adjourned.
During Torres’ second trial in March 2020, the jury found him guilty of capital murder, which carries the death penalty. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Torres’ stepson, Quinton Martin, leaped out of the witness box to attack Torres during testimony.
Martin apparently reacted after the prosecutor asked if Torres had ever sexually abused him. Judge Brad Karren then called a mistrial.
Torres was also found guilty in his first trial, but Arkansas Supreme Court Justices ruled that state authorities couldn’t use rape as a justification for the murder conviction because the assault occurred in Missouri.