BENTONVILLE -- A jury recommended Mauricio Torres be sentenced to life in prison for killing his 6-year-old son.
The eight men and four women deliberated for several hours starting Tuesday before returning with their verdict Wednesday morning. They had to choose between life imprisonment without the benefit of parole or the death penalty.
The jury last week found Torres, 53, guilty of capital murder and battery in the death of Maurice Isaiah Torres. Isaiah died March 30, 2015, from an infection caused when a stick was shoved in his rectum. A medical examiner listed chronic child abuse as a factor in Isaiah's death.
The jury on Wednesday also gave Torres 20 years in prison for the battery conviction.
Torres said in a 2015 police interview he put the stick in his son's rectum but later testified his son was holding the stick while doing squats. Torres said Isaiah fell on the stick, and it went inside his rectum.
Jurors saw photographs of bruises and wounds covering Isaiah's body.
Torres admitted he physically abused his son but claimed his wife was responsible for most of the abuse delivered to Isaiah. Cathy Torres, 51, pleaded guilty in 2017 to capital murder and battery. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors presented testimony at the sentencing from Mauricio Torres' two adult children and adult stepdaughter, who said Torres physically and sexually abused them as children.
Torres last week pleaded with jurors to spare his life and not sentence him to death. He also told jurors about being physically and sexually abused.
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith on Tuesday described the case as an ugly and dark one. Smith said the death penalty was a just sentence in the case.
Mercy is an important part of the law, but Torres refuses to admit to killing his son and abusing other children, Smith said. He said Torres had no sympathy or pity for his son, who was an innocent and vulnerable child.
Jeff Rosenzweig, one of Torres' attorneys asked the panel for mercy for his client by recommending the life sentence.
Rosenzweig described Torres as a broken man who did not intend to kill his son. Rosenzweig said Torres could still help others behind prison walls.
It's the second time a jury has deliberated on whether Torres should live or die.
Torres was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 2016 in his son's murder, but the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2019 and ordered Torres receive a new trial.
A second jury found Torres guilty of murder and battery. The proceedings ended during the sentencing phase March 5, 2020, when a witness jumped from the witness stand box and attempted to attack Torres. A Benton County Sheriff's Office deputy and a bailiff stopped the witness from reaching Torres.
Judge Brad Karren declared a mistrial and ruled Torres should have another trial. The Arkansas attorney general's office appealed, but the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed with Karren.