NEWS (3/21/20): Arkansas — Arkansas capital defendant Mauricio Torres will get a third trial in the child-abuse murder of his six-year-old son after a Benton County trial judge declared a mistrial during the penalty-phase of his second trial and vacated the jury’s conviction.

Judge Brad Karren declared a mistrial on March 5 after prosecution witness Quinten Martin, Torres’s step-son, attempted to attack Torres in the jury’s presence. The defense argued that Arkansas law required an initial death sentence to be imposed by the same jury that rendered the guilt verdict. On March 21, Judge Karren ruled in the defense’s favor, agreeing that a new jury could not be empaneled for sentencing without first considering Torres’s guilt or innocence.

Torres was first convicted and sentenced to death in November 2016. However, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned that conviction because prosecutors had improperly charged Torres with an alleged rape that had taken place entirely in Missouri and could not be tried in Arkansas.