A jury has recommended the death penalty for Jesse Torres, a 42-year-old man convicted last week for the abduction and murder of 17-year-old Norma Lopez.
Final arguments wrapped Wednesday morning. The jury deliberated for approximately an hour. Torres will return to court on April 12 to litigate whether or not Torres will be eligible for an Atkins hearing.
During the Atkins hearing, Torres’ defense can make an argument that he is ineligible for the death penalty due to intellectual disabilities. The eighth amendment disallows the disabled people from being sentenced to death, as it is considered cruel and unusual punishmnent.
The sisters of the Moreno Valley teenager abducted and killed nearly nine years ago recalled her Tuesday as loving, happy youth whose loss impacted them deeply.
“We were not twins but almost as close,” Sonia Lopez, now 24, said of her sister, Norma Angelica Lopez. “She was friendly, caring — always a happy person. She liked to make people smile.”
Sonia Lopez was the first to find her 17-year-old sibling’s possessions scattered in a field along Cottonwood Avenue in the early afternoon of July 15, 2010. She remembered immediately feeling Norma “was in danger.”
“I screamed and yelled,” the witness testified tearfully. “I was terrified. I wanted her to respond back.”