An emotional plea from accused child killer Noe Torres to remain jailed in Clovis and be close to his family was rejected Wednesday by District Judge Donna Mowrer.
Appearing via video at his arraignment on murder charges, Torres, his voice choking, asked Mowrer to reconsider an order signed earlier this week that places him in a state prison instead of the troubled Curry County jail.
“I’m not a violent man. God knows it,” said Torres, 33, who is accused of shooting and killing 10-year-old Carlos Perez in 2005 as the child lay sleeping in his bed.
Torres, who was extradited Tuesday to the U.S. after his January capture in Mexico City, acknowledged past violent convictions, including armed robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Torres said he was much younger when he committed those acts.
“That was then,” Torres said, noting he is now older and has a “baby daughter.”
“I ask you to please keep me here in the county.”
District Attorney Matt Chandler followed Torres’ plea by telling the judge he was sure the Perez family would like to be able to see Carlos. Chandler’s statement was punctuated by nods from some of the nine members of the Perez family seated behind him in the courtroom.
Earlier in the proceedings, Chandler argued that former fugitive Torres by his own actions presented a flight risk and it was clear he was a danger to society. Those arguments came on the heels of a request by Torres’ attorney Kirk Chavez that Mowrer grant his client bond and the judge issue a gag order.
Chandler argued that keeping Torres in a state prison was an issue of safety for the community and staff at Curry County jail. This followed a lengthy argument by Chavez that incarcerating his client outside Curry County placed an extra burden in his ability to confer with Torres and present an adequate defense.
Chavez told Mowrer he would be “absolutely paralyzed” in being able to work with Torres.
“Mr. Torres asserts his innocence,” Chavez said. “I want the court to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mr. Torres asserts his innocence.”
Chandler told the judge “the safety concerns greatly outweigh whatever perceived burdens Mr. Chavez can create.”
Mowrer denied Chavez’s request for bond and to keep Torres locked up in Curry County. She also denied his passionate and prolonged plea to issue a gag order.
“This case,” Chavez said, “has media involved in it all over the place.
“Let’s try this case in the courtroom,” Chavez said. “Let’s not try this case in the media and the newspaper.”
While a fugitive, Torres called the CNJ several times by telephone to proclaim his innocence. He was captured in Jan. 25 hiding in Mexico after writing a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez proclaiming his innocence and asking for her help.
Martinez contacted Mexican authorities, who located Torres based on her information.
Arguing against any gag order, Chandler countered that if Chavez wanted to inform Torres to stop contacting the media or writing letters to the governor “he has that right.”
“I will not block any access to the media,” Mowrer said.