Mixed martial artist Joe Torrez
will not be charged with homicide in the Jan. 1 death of a man who
broke into his home in Dona Ana, N.M., according to a report in the
Las Cruces Sun News
fought four intruders who invaded his home on New Year’s Day.
One of those men, 25-year-old Sal Garces, was stabbed four times in
chest during the altercation and died at the scene. Throughout the
case, Torrez, whose fiance and son were home during the break-in,
claimed he acted in self defense. Dona Ana County authorities
announced that Torrez would not be charged on Thursday.
“It was like a weight was lifted this morning,” Torrez told the
Sun-News. “No matter what … I had it in my mind.”
A statement by Torrez can be viewed here.
The three other men who allegedly entered Torrez’s home -- Nathan
M. Avalos, Raymond Garces and Leonard Calvillo -- have all been
indicted on aggravated burglary, conspiracy, attempted battery and
criminal damage to property charges and are still awaiting trial.
Two others, Rachel Carrillo and Cylver Betancourt, are facing
aggravated burglary charges stemming from that night.
Torrez remained a suspect because Dona Ana County Sheriff’s
investigators noticed that evidence did not match Torrez’s initial
statements. While Torrez at first claimed to not know the
intruders, an investigation “revealed a history of incidents
between Torrez, his then-girlfriend and those charged with the
break-in,” according to the Sun-News.
The case lasted nearly eight months because authorities reportedly
sent weapons found near Garces’ body to a lab to be tested and were
awaiting results; Torrez’s DNA was not found on the weapons.
However, Dona Ana County Sheriff spokeswoman told the Sun-News that
the case is suspended, not closed, meaning resources will not be
actively devoted to the investigation. If new evidence is
presented, then the investigation could be revisited.
Torrez is 1-5 as a professional mixed martial artist. He debuted on
Aug. 1, 2009, losing to UFC featherweight contender Dustin
Poirier at a regional event in Louisiana. He has competed for
various promotions since then, most recently losing to Rodrigo
Sotelo on July 26, 2013 in El Paso, Texas.
Torrez also notably fought once for the Jackson’s MMA Series, which
is an event promoted by the Albuquerque, N.M.-based
Jackson-Wink MMA gym.
“Congrats to our friend Joe Torrez on being cleared of charges
while defending his family,” read a tweet from the Jackson’s MMA
Twitter account on Thursday.
Torrez told the Sun-News that he wants to continue his MMA career
but has concerns that fighting in the cage could cause him to have
flashbacks to the Jan. 1 incident.
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