Former police officer convicted of assault
HONOLULU (AP) — A former Pearl Harbor base police officer whose murder conviction in the disappearance of a 19-year-old man was overturned has been convicted of felony assault as part of a plea deal stemming from the 1992 case.
Jenaro Torres, 64, entered a no contest plea Thursday and agreed to the maximum prison term for first-degree assault. Defense attorney Emmanuel Guerrero said Torres pleaded no contest to end the case.
State Circuit Judge Michael Wilson sentenced Torres to 10 years in prison, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/Y0jroP).
The judge ordered Torres to spend at least five years behind bars. The requirement before eligibility for parole was added, the judge said, because Torres committed the crime while possessing a gun, threatening its use or using it during the crime.
Torres has been imprisoned for seven years, and that time will be counted toward his sentence. The Hawaii Paroling Authority can require more time served.
Torres was charged in the disappearance of Ruben Gallegos as Gallegos was assigned to cash checks at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base Exchange.
Gallegos disappeared May 1, 1992. He was last reported seen being escorted from his cashier’s cage by Torres.
The officer was in uniform but off-duty at the time.
Pearl Harbor federal police officers arrested Torres later that day as he attempted to re-enter Pearl Harbor.
His car was searched. Police found most of the $80,000 assigned to Gallegos. They also recovered Gallegos’ wallet, identification and other belongings.
They found a stun gun and a firearm loaded with two live rounds. Three spent casings were inside the gun.
Torres in 1992 pleaded no contest in federal court to theft and possession of a loaded gun on a public highway without a license. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
State authorities in 2005 charged Torres with the murder of Gallegos, whose body has not been recovered.
A state jury convicted Torres in 2007. The Hawaii Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that federal police improperly discovered items in Torres’ car.
State Attorney General David Louie said in a statement that the plea agreement was reasonable. Three key witnesses in the case have died, he said.
One witness who died, Susan Davis, said she worked with Torres in California after his release from prison. She testified at Torres’ trial that he said he had killed an accomplice in a robbery in Hawaii. She also said he threatened her if she told anyone.
Torres maintains he did not kill Gallegos.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com