BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — After the Arkansas Supreme Court has dismissed the Benton County Circuit Court's petition to uphold Mauricio Torres' guilty conviction in his six-year-old son's death, his third murder trial will move forward in full.
This means that his previous convictions will be thrown out, and new jurors will be selected. That jury selection was set to begin on Monday, Jan. 30, but was postponed due to icy and hazardous weather conditions.
The petition was denied based on Torres' conviction being declared a mistrial after jurors, who had already found him guilty, were dismissed from the courtroom in March 2020 following an incident involving Torres' stepson. In Arkansas, when a jury finds a defendant guilty of capital murder, the same jury must sit in to determine the sentencing.
On November 15, 2016, Torres was convicted of capital murder and first-degree battery in the death of his six-year-old son Maurice "Isaiah" Torres by a Benton County jury.
Investigators say Torres used a stick to sexually assault his son while the family was camping in Missouri in 2015. The boy died at an Arkansas hospital a day after the assault.
He was sentenced to death for Isaiah's murder and faced twenty years of imprisonment, and ordered to pay a fine for the battery charge.
Torress appealed the sentencing, and the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the Benton County court's decision based on the assault happening in Missouri.
On March 5, 2020, A Benton County jury found Torres guilty of capital murder and first-degree battery in Isaiah's death.
During the penalty phase of his second trial, Torres' adult stepson Quentin Martin was called as a witness.
When asked if Torres had sexually abused him as a child, Martin leaped out of the witness box and lunged towards Torres and his attorneys. During the scuffle with court personnel, a table was overturned, papers were scattered across the courtroom, and jurors were instructed to move to the jury room.
Following a recess, the Benton County Circuit Court announced that it would declare a mistrial and that the mistrial would cover both the trial's guilt and penalty phases. Torres' defense team accepted the mistrial.
On Monday, April 20, 2020, the State of Arkansas in its trial against Torres filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking the Benton County Circuit Court to preserve the guilty verdict against Torres.
The Supreme Court of Arkansas denied the petition of writ based on the Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure contemplates alternate jurors participating in a trial’s penalty phase.
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