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Jury selection to begin Monday as Bella Vista man accused of killing his son goes on trial for a third time

by Tracy Neal | January 29, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Mauricio Torres is escorted out of the Benton County Courthouse Annex in June 2019 in Bentonville. (File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

BENTONVILLE -- Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the third trial for a Bella Vista man accused of killing his 6-year-old son.

Mauricio Alejandro Torres, 53, is charged with capital murder and battery. He has pleaded innocent to the charges. If convicted of capital murder, Torres will be sentenced to life imprisonment without the benefit of parole or the death penalty.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Prospective jurors have been ordered to report Monday for the first portion of jury selection. Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren will question the group and their names then will be put in groups of three and given times to report for the attorneys to ask their questions as they select the jury.

Jury selection is expected to take a few days. The trial is expected to last several days after that.

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 be given a new trial. The high court ruled prosecutors hadn't proven their case to warrant the death penalty.

A second jury found Torres guilty of murder and battery charges. 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.

Karren declared a mistrial and ruled Torres should have another trial.

During a hearing Jan. 20, Karren asked Jeff Rosenzweig, Torres' attorney, about having Torres wear a stun belt, which allows a deputy to send an electric shock in response to a disturbance or escape attempt.

Rosenzweig said he didn't see a need for a stun belt because Torres had behaved well during six weeks of the two past trials. Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith agreed with Rosenzweig.

Karren issued a gag order prohibiting the attorneys from publicly commenting on the case.

Maurice Isaiah Torres died March 30, 2015, at a Bella Vista medical clinic, according to court documents. Torres is accused of shoving a stick in his son's rectum, causing an infection that led to the boy's death. Prosecutors presented evidence showing the boy was repeatedly abused.

During both of Torres' first two trials, a medical examiner testified the boy's death was caused by a bacterial infection resulting from sodomy and chronic child abuse.

Cathy Torres, Mauricio Torres' wife, pleaded guilty in 2016 to capital murder and battery and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. She testified during Torres' second trial and blamed her husband for abusing their son. She is on the witness list for the third trial. She was recently transferred from prison to the Benton County jail.

Print Headline: Man faces 3rd trial in son’s death


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