Mauricio Torres seeks continuance in 3rd capital murder trial

National / World

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Attorneys representing Mauricio Torres have filed a motion calling for Torres’ third capital murder trial to be postponed, according to court documents.

The third trial for the murder of his 6-year-old son, Isaiah, is currently scheduled for January 31 with a pretrial hearing set for January 14, 2022.

Isaiah Torres.

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.

Mauricio Torres and Quinton Martin booking photos from the Benton County jail.

Martin apparently reacted after the prosecutor asked if Torres had ever sexually abused him. Judge Brad Karren then called a mistrial.

Investigators say Torres sexually assaulted his son with a stick while on a family camping trip in Missouri, resulting in the boy’s death a day later. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

An appeal to the State Supreme Court shows that Torres must go through a third trial.

Court documents state that “Torres hereby moves for a continuance for this reason: Although he requested preparation of transcripts of the February-March 2020 trial in June 2020, Torres has not received any transcripts of witness testimony from that trial. Several crucial witnesses in that trial did not testify in the first trial.”

The filing continues, adding that “the transcript of the first trial is not an adequate substitute. Torres now has been informed that the transcripts cannot be prepared in time for him to make beneficial use of them. Acquisition of the transcripts is a compelling need to which an indigent defendant is entitled, as recognized in Britt v. North Carolina, 404 U.S. 226, 92 S.Ct. 431 (1971). It is counsel’s understanding that the prosecution also has requested the transcripts.”

Documents show Torres suggests that the pretrial hearing currently scheduled for January 14, 2022, remain in place. The state filed a response to the motion of continuance, agreeing with keeping the pretrial date. The prosecution does not object to Torres’ motion for continuance.

The state’s filing shows that “the court has informed the parties that the court reporter will not have the transcript prepared in sufficient time for the parties to make adequate use of it in the upcoming trial.”

The defense also filed a motion regarding mask use in the courtroom, seeking potential jurors during the voir dire process, and witnesses giving testimony being unmasked.

Judge Brad Karren has yet to rule on the motions.

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