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April 25, 2014

Ex-Marine sentenced to die in sailor's death

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An ex-Marine was sentenced to death Thursday for murdering a fellow service member in 2009, after a federal jury concluded he had been responsible for a series of violent, sexually motivated attacks on women and young girls over the last nine years.

The jury deliberated for less than four hours before sentencing Jorge Torrez, 25, of Zion, Ill., to death for the murder of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell, a Las Vegas native, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, in a barracks where both lived a few doors down from each other.

On the verdict form, the jury also unanimously concluded that Torrez also killed two young girls — 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias — in 2005 in his hometown of Zion, when he was just 16.

After Torrez was found guilty earlier this month of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell’s murder, Torrez ordered his lawyers not to put on any defense or question the government’s case during the trial’s sentencing phase. On Thursday, during closing arguments in the morning and when the verdict was read in the afternoon, Torrez sat impassively in front of the jury in his green jail jumpsuit, forgoing the civilian clothes he has worn all trial.

His lawyer, Robert Jenkins, left little doubt that Torrez preferred a death sentence to life in prison, though he would not directly confirm it.

“My client certainly had a goal, and I think in his mind, he achieved that goal, and I think he welcomed it,” Jenkins said. “It wasn’t as much a trial as it was an assisted suicide.”

During Thursday’s closing arguments, prosecutor James Trump emphasized to the jury that Snell’s murder was far from his only crime. The Illinois girls’ murders were especially brutal — jurors saw gruesome photos of Hobbs’ body with stab wounds to the eyes that medical experts concluded occurred while she was still alive. Semen found on Hobbs was linked by DNA evidence to Torrez.

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