45 years for murdering Mexican Independence Day reveler in the South Loop

CHICAGO — A man accused of murdering another man on a South Loop grocery store parking lot during Mexican Independence Day celebrations in 2021 was sentenced on Friday to 45 years in prison. Cellular phone video of the murder quickly went viral.

Martin Torres, 31, was convicted of two counts of murder during a jury trial on February 1. During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Timothy Joyce handed Torres 20 years for the murder plus a 25-year sentencing enhancement for using a firearm during the crime, according to court records.

On September 16, 2021, Christopher Torrijos and a group of his friends headed to the South Loop to participate in the increasingly popular street gatherings that celebrate Mexican Independence Day. They ended up at the Jewel-Osco parking lot at 1340 South Canal, which was teeming with revelers.

Martin Torres, left and holding a gun in video of the shooting, and Christopher Torrijos. (Chicago Police Department, Chicago Critter, Facebook)

At the end of the evening, as the group’s driver backed out of a parking space, Torres’ brother became upset because the vehicle was reversing near him, prosecutors claimed during initial court proceedings. Torres’ brother yelled and banged on the car and started arguing with members of the group, including Torrijos, officials claimed.

Prosecutors said Torres’ brother shoved Torrijos and claimed to be a Satan Disciple, while Torrijos repeatedly exclaimed that he was a “neutron,” meaning he wasn’t a gang member. A fight broke out, and at least two cameras recorded the incident.

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, an assistant state’s attorney claimed after Torres was arrested ten months later.

Police officers who work in Little Village identified Torres almost immediately from video images, but it took authorities nearly a year to find him. Despite the fact that Chicago police quickly determined who they were looking for, the long search effort sparked reports suggesting the police were either inept for not solving a crime caught on video or they were discriminating because the victim was Hispanic.

From the beginning, Torres’ private defense attorney, Joseph Lopez, argued that Torres was acting in defense of his brother. Lopez continued that argument at trial, and claimed in a post-conviction filing that Torres’ gun fired during a “scuffle.”

Ultimately, the jury reached its verdict on the same day it was given the case, according to Judge Joyce’s trial notes.

Torres was on parole for a felony gun case at the time of the murder. However, he would have still been in prison had prosecutors not dropped a second gun case he picked up while on electronic monitoring as part of their plea bargain.

About Tim Hecke 300 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com