Sunday, November 16, 2008

Illegal immigrant convicted of rape of Valparaiso, IN college students - sentenced to 36 years

(Original Post 8-21-08)

Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford will sentence a 21 year old man for the rape of a Valiparaiso student and attempted rape of another in the fall. Arturo Garcia-Torres, an illegal Mexican immigrant, was found guilty Wednesday after a jury deliberation of about an hour of the Class B Indiana felonies of rape, attempted rape, and 2 counts of burglary. The rape occurred July 18, 2004 and the attempted rape occurred June 12, 2005. Each Class B felony carries a sentence range of 6 to 20 years, which can be halved with good behavior in prison.

Defense attorney Visvaldis Kupsis challenged the accuracy of the investigation by repeatedly questioning Horn as to what shared characteristics there were beyond that both attackers were Hispanic males.Kupsis pointed out there was an age difference between the two descriptions and attempted to distinguish the physical builds of the men as well.

But Horn said both women described the man as thin and one added he had a muscular build. Kupsis told the jury Tuesday the charges against Garcia-Torres are based on a hastily done investigation by a police department under pressure to find the person responsible for the high-profile attacks on the Valparaiso University students.

In addition to differences in the physical descriptions, he said a cell phone that helped lead police to Garcia-Torres was recovered several blocks away from the crime scene and in the opposite direction of where the attacker reportedly fled.

Valparaiso Detective Lt. Tom Horn acknowledged the differences in descriptions, but said enough evidence, including DNA evidence led police to Garcia Torres. Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek presented the evidence, a mouth swab collected from Garcia-Torres. The defense failed to throw out the evidence, but Horn stated that Torres shook his head instead of giving verbal consent because he speaks Spanish only.

Garcia-Torres’ sentencing will be scheduled to be be held on November 14.

(Update 11-16-08) Garcia Torres was sentenced to 36 years in prison Friday, and deportation after his prison term ends. Judge Roger Bradford said that Garcia-Torres' illegal immigrant stauts was an aggravating factor in the sentence.

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