Jury convicts Torres of La Jolla robbery, murder
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 09/18/18 - 10:34 AM | 1877 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After 10 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury on Friday convicted a man of burglarizing and robbing a La Jolla man at gunpoint as well as first-degree murder in another incident.

Jose Nunez Torres, 23, was also found guilty of 13 other charges including two counts of evading officers with reckless driving, two auto thefts, and committing some offenses while free on bond in an earlier court case.

The seven-man, five-woman jury also found true special circumstances allegations that the murder of Leticia Arroyo was committed during a robbery, burglary, and while lying in wait.

Deputy District Attorney James Koerber said Torres faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 25 years consecutively for personally using a gun in a homicide.

Torres could also face additional years in prison for robbing the La Jolla man and other crimes.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin set sentencing for Nov. 9. Torres remains in jail without bail.

The trial was in El Cajon because Arroyo, 34, was killed in her Santee townhome on Oct. 4, 2016. Four baggies of methamphetamine were taken from her home, according to the getaway driver who testified against Torres.

Torres’ attorney, Michael Hawkins, did not mention the La Jolla robbery or some of the other crimes in his closing argument on Sept. 12. He mostly argued against convicting him of murder and blamed the getaway driver as the real killer.

Robert Hill was robbed on Oct. 12, 2016, at 7:50 a.m. in his La Jolla home which was a week after Arroyo was shot to death in her home.

Gustavo Ceron, 26, pleaded guilty to committing a home invasion robbery at Hill’s residence, and he testified Sept. 5 in Torres’ trial. Ceron will also be sentenced Nov. 9 and he faces up to seven years in prison.

Ceron worked at the Hilton Hotel in La Jolla at the time and testified he met Torres for the first time the night before. He said he smoked meth while Torres drove around La Jolla, looking for residences to burglarize.

Ceron told the jury that Torres picked out Hill’s residence to burglarize because he noticed the windows were open. He said Torres cut the window screen in the kitchen and got inside.

Ceron testified Torres let him in the front door and that Torres pointed a gun at Hill’s head when he heard voices in his home. He said he acted as a translator for Torres in talking with Hill, whom Ceron said was “really scared.”

Ceron was questioned about his plea agreement with prosecutors and acknowledged that a sentence on probation “could happen.”

Torres’ attorney claimed that his client was apparently present when Arroyo was shot, as her blood was later found on his pants. Hawkins told jurors the getaway driver shot her and not Torres.

The getaway driver pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact, and Hawkins said that was the offense Torres should have been charged with.

Ceron and the getaway driver also remain in jail awaiting sentencing.
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