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Former Marine guilty of murder, could face execution

Apr. 8, 2014 - 04:51PM   |  
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ALEXANDRIA, VA. — A former Marine was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of a fellow service member, and now faces a possible death sentence for what prosecutors say was just one among a series of violent, stalking attacks on young women in northern Virginia.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria convicted Jorge Torrez, 25, of killing Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell in July 2009. Both lived in the barracks on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington County.

The jury began deliberating Monday afternoon and returned its verdict late Tuesday morning. The sentencing phase will begin April 21, when prosecutors will ask the jury for a death sentence.

Torrez is already serving a life sentence for abducting three women in Arlington, raping one of them repeatedly and leaving her for dead.

He is also charged in the killing of two young girls in 2005 in his hometown of Zion, Ill. — 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias. Laura’s father, Jerry Hobbs, was originally charged in that case and spent five years in custody until the DNA evidence pointed to Torrez. Hobbs said he was coerced into a false confession. Illinois prosecutors are still waiting to put Torrez on trial.

Torrez was only 16 at the time of the girls’ deaths.

If Torrez is sentenced to death, it would be the first capital punishment handed out at the federal courthouse in Alexandria since 2007.

Snell’s murder went unsolved for nearly two years. Even though she was found stuffed into a wall locker with a pillow case over her head, the medical examiner did not rule her death a homicide, and the autopsy found no signs of sexual assault.

After Torrez was arrested in the Arlington abductions in 2010, DNA evidence connected him to the slayings in Illinois and to Snell’s murder. Torrez lived eight doors down from Snell in the barracks.

Jurors also heard recordings of a confession Torrez made to an inmate who was acting as a confidential informant.

Defense lawyers argued that there was a lack of evidence, and the confession was just boastful talk between inmates.

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