Ex-Marine Guilty of Murder, Could Face Execution

A jury convicted an ex-Marine of first-degree murder Tuesday in the 2009 slaying of a fellow service member.

Jorge Torrez, 25, now faces a possible death sentence for the July 2009 slaying of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell. Both lived in the barracks on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington County.

Prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Alexandria called it just one among a series of violent, stalking attacks on young women in northern Virginia.

The jury began deliberating Monday afternoon and returned its verdict late Tuesday morning. The sentencing phase begins April 21, when prosecutors will ask the jury for a death sentence.

Torrez is serving a life sentence for abducting three women in Arlington, raping one of them repeatedly and leaving her for dead.

He is also charged in the killing of two young girls in 2005 in his hometown of Zion, Ill. -- 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias. Laura's father, Jerry Hobbs, was originally charged in that case and spent five years in custody until the DNA evidence pointed to Torrez. Hobbs said he was coerced into a false confession. Illinois prosecutors are still waiting to put Torrez on trial.

Torrez was only 16 at the time of the girls' deaths.

If Torrez is sentenced to death, it would be the first capital punishment handed out at the federal courthouse in Alexandria since 2007.

Snell's murder went unsolved for nearly two years. Even though she was found stuffed into a wall locker with a pillow case over her head, the medical examiner did not rule her death a homicide, and the autopsy found no signs of sexual assault.

After Torrez was arrested in the Arlington abductions in 2010, DNA evidence connected him to the slayings in Illinois and to Snell's murder. Torrez lived eight doors down from Snell in the barracks.

Jurors also heard recordings of a confession Torrez made to an inmate who was acting as a confidential informant.

Defense lawyers argued that there was a lack of evidence and the confession was just boastful talk between inmates.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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