CRIME

Ex-Marine Jorge Torrez won't contest death penalty for murder of Navy sailor

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - An ex-Marine facing possible execution for the 2009 murder of a fellow service member ordered his lawyers not to make any arguments to spare his life.

A federal jury in Alexandria convicted Jorge Torrez, 25, earlier this month of the murder of sailor Amanda Snell at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. As the sentencing phase of the trial began Monday, the judge told jurors that Torrez ordered his attorneys not to contest the government's case.

Torrez' lawyer, Robert Jenkins, declined comment on whether his client has expressed a preference for execution. But he said it is not uncommon for defendants in capital cases to prefer execution over life in prison.

"If Mr. Torrez's goal is to receive a death sentence, the government is helping him achieve that goal," Jenkins said.

If he were permitted to do so, Jenkins said he would argue that life in prison is the worst possible punishment the jury could impose on Torres, who is only 25. Jenkins said it is difficult as a defense lawyer to stand aside and do nothing to defend your client, but that he has no choice.

Torrez contested his conviction, and questioned the government's evidence in the case. Prosecutors said DNA from Torres found in Snell's room and he gave a taped confession to a jail inmate.

Torres is already serving a life sentence for multiple assaults on northern Virginia women, including the rape and abduction of a woman he strangled and left for dead.

Even though the defense is not contesting the case, prosecutors must give their arguments and present evidence to the jury that Torres deserves execution.

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