Ex-Marine On Death Row In Virginia Faces Murder Trial In Lake County
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – A former north suburban man sentenced to death last Friday in Virginia murder will likely stand trial in Lake County later this summer for the brutal murder of two young girls on Mother’s Day 2005.
Jorge Torrez, 25, an ex-marine from Zion, received the death penalty for the slaying of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda Snell, 20, at a base in northern Virginia.
Torrez is now expected to face murder charges in Lake County for the fatal stabbings of Laura Hobbs, 8; and Krystal Tobias, 9, in the Beulah Park Forest Preserve in Zion.
Lake County State’s Atty. Mike Nerheim said Monday there was no question as to whether Torrez would be tried in Lake County despite his most recent conviction and previous convictions on rape, robbery and abduction charges.
“This was a horrific double homicide of two beautiful young girls killed on a Mother’s Day,” Nerheim said. “I’m not just going to let that go. I believe it’s the right thing to do.”
Nerheim said the victims’ families “very much want this to go to trial.”
“I do believe closure is part of justice,” Nerheim said. “This was a very important case to the community, too. The community needs closure.”
According to investigators, DNA found at the girls’ murder scene matches Torrez, who lived in the same neighborhood in 2005 and was a friend of Krystal’s older brother.
He left the area to enter the Marines, which took him to the Virginia area.
Nerheim said that while he assumes the conviction and death sentence in Virginia is solid, he can never know what an appellate court may do with a case.
Assistant State’s Attorney Ari Fisz attended Torrez’s murder trial in Virginia, and said his best information is that Torrez will go to trial in Lake County in late summer or early fall.
The jury that convicted Torrez of Snell’s murder decided on the death penalty, and a judge made the sentence official on Friday.
Fisz said the jury was not told of the Zion murders during the Virginia trial, but the DNA evidence linking him to the deaths of Hobbs and Tobias was introduced by the prosecution during the penalty phase.
Nerheim said Fisz and Steve Scheller, another veteran assistant state’s attorney, will prosecute Torrez in the Lake County double homicide.
Torrez would face a potential life sentence if convicted.
Jerry Hobbs, Laura’s father, was initially charged with killing his daughter and her friend after signing a confession following an interrogation that lasted more than 20 hours. He spent five years in Lake County Jail awaiting trial before charges were dropped in 2010 after DNA evidence linked Torrez to the murders.
Nerheim, who was not in office at that time, said the fact that “an innocent person spent five years in jail is an additional tragedy” attached to the case.
Zion became a focus of national attention in May 2005 when news broke about the murders. Locally, prayer vigils were held and parents kept their children close as the case was described as a crime of rage.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)