Man convicted of robbery, burglary, car theft and murder

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After 10 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury on Friday convicted a man of first-degree murder in the 2016 slaying of Leticia Arroyo in her Santee residence.

Jose Nunez Torres, 23, was also found guilty of 15 other charges including robbery, burglary, evading officers with reckless driving and two auto thefts.

The seven-man, five-woman jury also found true special circumstances allegations that the murder of Arroyo, 34, was committed during a robbery, burglary and while lying in wait.

After 10 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury on Friday convicted a man of first-degree murder in the 2016 slaying of Leticia Arroyo in her Santee residence.

Jose Nunez Torres, 23, was also found guilty of 15 other charges including robbery, burglary, evading officers with reckless driving and two auto thefts.

The seven-man, five-woman jury also found true special circumstances allegations that the murder of Arroyo, 34, was committed during a robbery, burglary and while lying in wait.

Deputy District Attorney James Koerber said Torres faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 25 years consecutively for personally using a gun in a homicide.

Torres could also face additional years in prison on the other charges including an armed home invasion robbery in La Jolla about a week after Arroyo was shot to death on Oct. 4, 2016.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin set sentencing for Nov. 9.

Torres remains in jail without bail.

Four baggies of methamphetamine were taken from Arroyo’s home, according to the getaway driver who testified against Torres.

Torres’ attorney, Michael Hawkins, argued the real killer was the getaway driver, who pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact. He said the roles with the getaway driver were switched and it was Torres who was the accessory.

“He’s a thief, but he is not a murderer,” argued Hawkins on Sept. 12. “He didn’t kill her…He’s an addict. He buys and sells drugs.”

 Hawkins said Torres was present when Arroyo was killed because her blood was later found on his pants. The driver’s name is being withheld because he has received death threats, said his attorney Gloria Collins.

Collins said the driver’s DNA was taken and it did not match any evidence at the crime scene. He also has no prior record, unlike Torres, she noted.

Gustavo Ceron, 26, pleaded guilty to committing a home invasion robbery in La Jolla and he testified Sept. 5 in Torres’ trial. Ceron will be sentenced Nov. 9.

Ceron was questioned about his plea agreement with prosecutors and acknowledged that a sentence on probation “could happen” although he faces up to seven years in prison.

The driver could receive up to three years in prison.

Torres was arrested by National City Police on Oct. 16, 2016, after an officer noticed he was driving a stolen car linked to a robbery.

Man sentenced for killing child

A jury deliberated for just more than two hours on Sept. 12 before convicting an Alpine man of second-degree murder and assault upon his girlfriend’s 20-month-old son, Lucas Orlando.

The quick verdict by the nine-woman, three-man jury against Brett Brown, 31, occurred in the trial that started Sept. 5 in El Cajon Superior Court.

Deputy District Attorney Chantal de Mauregne said Brown faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life, which is the mandatory term for the assault upon a child charge.

Judge John Thompson set sentencing for Nov. 28. Brown remains in jail without bail.

Brown’s attorney, Stephen Cline, argued to jurors that Brown was holding Lucas and carrying a plate of food when he stumbled and fell on top of the boy, causing a skull fracture and other broken bones.

Cline urged an acquittal and asked jurors to “think the physics through” regarding the injuries the boy could have received from a 220-pound man falling on him.

De Mauregne argued to jurors that paramedics found no spilled food on the floor and noted that Brown told them the boy had been jumping on the couch and fell, hitting his head.

“He picked up that child and violently shook him,” argued de Mauregne. “The medical evidence tells you what happened. He smashed his head against a hard surface.”

Testifying against Brown was the boy’s mother, Renee Fournier, 31, who pleaded guilty to child endangerment. She will be sentenced on Oct. 9.

Her felony conviction is expected to be reduced to a misdemeanor and she may receive up to a year in jail. Fournier remains free on $100,000 bond.

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