Jorge Torrez, the subject of a 2012 Washingtonian feature “Predator in the Ranks,” is facing the death penalty.
On Tuesday, jury in US District Court in Alexandria returned a verdict of first-degree murder against the ex-Marine. Prosecutors had charged Torrez with the 2009 killing of Amanda Jean Snell, 20, a sailor who lived down the hall from him in the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall barracks.
Friends discovered Snell’s body in the locker of her room in the barracks in July 2009. Medical examiners working with the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) could not determine a cause of death.
NCIS didn’t pursued Torrez or charge him in the murder, until Arlington police linked Torrez to a series of crimes against young women. (Torrez went so far as to offer himself up as a source to NCIS investigators, who accepted.)
After a painstaking investigation, however, Arlington police arrested Torrez in February 2010 for the abduction, rape, and forcible sodomy of another woman, a female University of Maryland student. An Arlington jury convicted Torrez of those charges in October 2010 and sentenced him to five life terms plus 165 years.
In May 2011 federal prosecutors finally charged Torrez—who had also been implicated in the murders of two young girls in his hometown of Zion, Illinois—with killing Snell.
His trial concluded last week, with jurors deliberating for several hours over two days before convicting Torrez, now 25, of strangling Snell with a laptop cord as she slept.
In his closing argument, Assistant US Attorney James Trump told jurors, “We are standing here because Amanda Snell had the pure, dumb luck of having a room a few doors down from this man.”
Tuesday’s conviction means Torrez is eligible for the death penalty. The judge asked jurors to return to court on April 21 to begin deliberations on whether Torrez should be executed.
Arlington detective James Stone, who led the investigation against Torrez for abduction and rape, is scheduled to testify at the death penalty hearing.