BENTONVILLE -- The parents of a 6-year-old boy gave conflicting accounts Tuesday about the abuse leading to their son's death.
Maurice Isaiah Torres died as result of a bacterial infection from sodomy and chronic child abuse, a medical examiner said. Isaiah died March 30, 2015, at a Bella Vista medical clinic.
His parents, Mauricio Alejandro Torres, 50, and Cathy Torres, 48, testified Tuesday at the capital-murder trial of Mauricio Torres. He's also charged with battery. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Cathy Torres pleaded guilty in 2016 to the same charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The two are still married, but have had no contact with each other.
Mauricio Torres was previously convicted of the charges and sentenced to death, but the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction last year and ordered a new trial.
Torres took the witness stand Tuesday to testify in his defense. He said he disciplined his son to please his wife, but claimed his wife was responsible for most of Isaiah's injuries.
He admitted to placing a stick in his son's rectum as a punishment after the child raided their refrigerator and got into a cake. Torres said he was also upset the boy soiled himself during the night.
Torres left the witness stand and walked in front of the jury. He told the jury he called Isaiah a baby for soiling himself. He turned his back to the jury, bent over and showed where he placed the stick. He then made his son squat with the stick inside.
"That's punishment for the mess he made," he said.
His wife was telling Isaiah to go up and down faster, Torres said. He said Isaiah was pushed, lost his balance and fell to the floor on the stick.
Torres fell backward to the floor to show jurors how Isaiah was injured.
He said he was responsible for some of the bruises and injuries to his son, but said his wife caused most of them.
He was a coward for not protecting his son, Torres said, but never thought the abuse would lead to Isaiah's death.
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith showed Torres a photograph showing the bruises on Isaiah's face.
Torres said his wife and two daughters also abused Isaiah.
"I loved my son and I always will," Torres told Smith. "He lives in my heart."
"I did not murder my son," Torres said when Smith asked about his son's death. "I abused him, but I did not murder him."
"You shoved the stick up his rectum," Smith said.
"No, I did not shove a stick up his rectum," Torres quickly responded.
"You called a 6-year-old boy beaten to a pulp a baby," Smith said.
"Yes," Torres said.
Torres told the jury to do what they wanted, but he was telling them the truth.
"I'm not here trying to save myself," he said while looking at jurors. "If you want to give me death that is your right. I love America. It has been good to my family."
Cathy Torres testified Tuesday morning and blamed Isaiah's abuse on her husband.
She admitted to spanking Isaiah, but denied she was responsible for any of the bruises or wounds covering the boy's body.
Cathy Torres said she was innocent in her son's killing and only pleaded guilty because she feared she would not receive a fair trial and wanted to avoid a possible death sentence.
She said she didn't know her son was injured with the stick.
The defense ended their case Tuesday. The trial will resume today when lawyers are expected to present closing remarks.
The seven men and five women serving on the jury will then begin deliberation.
Metro on 03/04/2020