BENTONVILLE -- A third jury will have to decide whether Mauricio Alejandro Torres is guilty of killing his 6-year-old son.
Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren on Thursday refused to reconsider the mistrial he granted Torres after a second jury found him guilty. Karren decided Arkansas law requires the same jury that found Torres guilty of the crimes must decide his punishment.
Torres, 50, is charged with capital murder and battery. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Mauricio Isaiah Torres died March 30, 2015, at a Bella Vista medical clinic. A medical examiner testified at two trials the boy's death was caused by a bacterial infection resulting from sodomy and chronic child abuse.
Torres was tried and convicted in 2016 of capital murder and battery, but last year the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered Torres be given a new trial.
A second jury convicted Torres of the same charges, but they didn't decide his punishment.
Quinten Martin was testifying March 5 during the sentencing phase of the trial when he leaped from the witness stand to attack Torres. Martin is Torres' stepson. A bailiff and Sheriff's Office deputy restrained Martin before he could reach Torres.
The disturbance happened in front of the jury.
Jeff Rosenzweig, one of Torres' attorneys, requested a mistrial. Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith objected.
Karren granted the mistrial but gave prosecutors time to file a motion asking him to reconsider the decision.
Smith filed a motion last week requesting the jury's guilty verdicts remain and a third jury be chosen to decide Torres' punishment.
Karren appointed Tim Cullen as a special master to investigate the issue of Martin's disturbance in his court. The investigation was scheduled to be addressed at a hearing Thursday, but Smith and Rosenzweig filed motions objecting to the special master.
Karren has suspended the special master appointment until a May 20 hearing.
Torres is being held without bond in the Benton County Jail.
His wife, Cathy, pleaded guilty in 2016 to the murder and battery charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. She testified at trial she wasn't aware their son was being abused and blamed her husband for beating and killing their son.
Torres testified and admitted to abusing his son but claimed his wife was responsible for most of the abuse.
NW News on 03/20/2020
This story was originally published at 1:05 a.m.
Print Headline: Torres to get third murder trial