BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Thursday for an Arkansas man convicted of killing his 6-year-old son by sexually assaulting the child with a stick after the man’s stepson charged at his stepfather during the sentencing hearing.
Circuit Judge Brad Karren granted the request for a mistrial for Mauricio Torres after Torres’ stepson testified his stepfather had physically abused him and jumped up from the witness stand after a prosecutor asked about sexual abuse, KHOG-TV reported.
The stepson, who is in prison on drug charges, wore shackles on his legs. As he went toward where Torres and his attorneys sat, they flipped the table where they were sitting on its side to stop him. Law enforcement then held the stepson down as he cried and screamed.
It was not clear if the stepson had been sexually abused. The Associated Press doesn’t usually name alleged victims of sexual assault.
A Benton County jury on Wednesday found Torres, 50, of Bella Vista, guilty of capital murder and battery during his retrial in the 2015 death of Isaiah Torres. He faced death or life in prison without parole.
Karren scheduled a hearing for March 19 on whether to grant a new trial only for the sentencing portion.
Mauricio Torres’ 2016 conviction and death sentence were overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 last April that Arkansas authorities couldn’t use rape as a justification for the murder conviction because the assault occurred in Missouri. Torres’ son died at an Arkansas hospital a day after the assault.
Torres’ attorneys have said his actions were intended as punishment and the father didn’t know they could kill the boy.
A medical examiner testified that the boy’s death was caused by a bacterial infection resulting from sodomy and chronic child abuse.
Torres’ wife, Cathy, pleaded guilty in 2017 to capital murder for the child’s death and was sentenced to life without parole.
Torres’ attorneys requested a mistrial after the outburst by Torres’ stepson, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren said he wanted to watch a video of the incident before ruling.