Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Martin Torres, 29, with shooting another man in the face at point-blank range during Mexican Independence Day celebrations in the South Loop last year. The murder was caught on video and went viral within hours.
Torres was on parole for a felony gun case at the time of the alleged murder. However, he would have still been in prison if prosecutors had not dropped a second gun case he picked up while on electronic monitoring as part of their plea bargain.
Prosecutors charged Torres with the first gun charge in October 2019 after police said they found him carrying a gun illegally in Little Village. A judge placed him on electronic monitoring to await trial.
About ten months later, Chicago police officers saw Torres standing on the sidewalk in front of his home while he was supposed to be inside on electronic monitoring, according to a CPD arrest report. A cop said he saw a gun in Torres’ front waistband.
Two men standing with Torres directed his attention to the approaching officers, and he ran into his house. Officers pursued him, forcing their way into his apartment and chasing him out the back door. The cops retraced their steps after arresting Torres. Inside his apartment, in a hole next to the back door, they found a loaded handgun, according to the police report.
Prosecutors charged him with felony unlawful use of a weapon for the second time.
Torres’ bail on the new gun charge was set at $100,000 by Judge Arthur Willis “because the electronic monitoring didn’t seem to do anything,” Willis said.
On January 22, 2021, prosecutors dropped the second gun case entirely and agreed to a two-year sentence for Torres, which he received from Judge Michael McHale. The state reduced that two-year sentence by 50% for good behavior and gave Torres credit for 463 days he spent in custody and on electronic monitoring before pleading.
Torres arrived at Stateville Correctional Center on January 25, 2021, and was released the same day, according to records.
Last week, a fugitive apprehension team arrested Torres in the suburbs to face charges in the South Loop shooting.
Christopher Torrijos and a group of his friends headed to the South Loop to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day last September 16. According to Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy, they went to the Jewel parking lot at 1340 South Canal, which was packed with revelers.
As the group’s driver backed out of a parking space at the end of the evening, Torres’ brother became upset because the vehicle was reversing near him, according to Murphy. Torres’ brother yelled and banged on the car and started arguing with members of the group, including Torrijos, Murphy said.
Torres’ brother allegedly shoved Torrijos and claimed to be a Satan Disciple, while Torrijos repeatedly exclaimed that he was a “neutron,” which means he wasn’t a gang member. A fight broke out, and the two began struggling as at least two cameras were recording the incident, Murphy said. Two videos went viral:
As the two struggled, Torres, who already had a gun in his right hand, entered the fray, put the gun “right up to the victim’s face” and shot him, according to Murphy.
Murphy said several police officers who work in Little Village identified Torres as the shooter from video images. But police did not find Torres until last week.
Torres’ private defense attorney, Joseph Lopez, contended that Torres was acting in self-defense of his brother, who was “severely beaten” by Torrijos. Torres “didn’t flee or hide,” Lopez said.
Murphy dismissed those claims.
“He did run. He wasn’t arrested at the scene. He certainly didn’t stick around after shooting the victim in the face. He fled,” Murphy countered. “The defendant’s brother was not severely beaten. He was not beaten at all.”
Judge Susana Ortiz weighed the lawyers’ presentations and granted the state’s request to hold Torres without bail.
The Illinois Department of Corrections is also moving to revoke Torres’ parole.