News & Politics

Virginia Jury Recommends Death for “Predator in the Ranks”

Earlier in April, Jorge Torrez was convicted of the murder of Amanda Jean Snell.

Earlier this month a jury convicted Jorge Torrez in the murder of 20-year-old Amanda Jean Snell, despite the fact that federal prosecutors were barred from discussing the details of how Torrez had raped an Arlington woman and killed two young girls.

When it came time this week for the prosecutors to argue that Torrez should be put to death, however, they finally were able to give jurors graphic descriptions of the former Marine’s Arlington crimes and the killing of two girls nearly a decade ago in Illinois.

“Jorge Torrez deserves to die,” Assistant US Attorney James Trump told the court on Thursday. “He is and will be a danger to others, even in prison.”

The jury deliberated for about four hours Thursday before recommending the death penalty for Torrez. Torrez, 25, had been found guilty for the April 2009 murder of Snell, a sailor who lived down the hall from him at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington.

The connection between the Snell murder and Torrez’s earlier crimes were the result of an intrepid investigation by Arlington police that began with Torrez’s arrest in February 2009 for abducting and raping a young woman days before. Eventually police connected him with a series of similar crimes in Arlington, plus the murder of two Illinois girls in 2005, for which the father of one of the girls was in jail awaiting trial. DNA collected by Arlington police helped free the father and implicate Torrez in the murders.

But Torrez still had not been charged with the murder of Amanda Snell. Federal prosecutors finally indicted him in June 2011. The two-week trial focused on Snell, but in this week’s death penalty portion, jurors were allowed to hear testimony from the Arlington cases and the Illinois murders.

Already in jail for the rest of his life for the Arlington crimes, Torrez told his lawyers not to mount a defense against the death penalty.

“Those are his choices to make,” his attorney, Robert Jenkins, told the Washington Post. “I just believe Mr. Torrez didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

US District Judge Liam O’Grady is scheduled to impose the sentence on May 30.