Defense wants DNA banned in trial over notorious Zion murders

  • Jorge Avila-Torrez

    Jorge Avila-Torrez

 
 
Updated 5/9/2017 4:51 PM

The defense for a former Zion man charged in the notorious slayings of two little girls on Mother's Day 2005 is trying to block Lake County prosecutors from presenting DNA evidence against him.

A witness for suspect Jorge Avila-Torrez testified Tuesday that authorities do not have enough of a DNA match to link the defendant to the murders of 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and her 9-year-old friend, Krystal Tobias.

 

"The (DNA) science is not in dispute, but the conclusions you can reach from the data obtained is limited," Dr. Karl Reich testified.

Avila-Torrez, a 25-year-old former U.S. Marine, is awaiting trial on 18 counts of murder alleging he killed the two girls and left their bodies in a Zion park. Torrez was 16 at the time and lived in the neighborhood, authorities say.

Police initially zeroed in on Laura's father, Jerry Hobbs, after he found the girls' bodies. He later confessed to the killings after nearly 24 hours of interrogation.

However, after Hobbs spent five years in the Lake County jail awaiting trial, DNA evidence exonerated him. He was released and has sued Lake County for wrongful imprisonment.

While Hobbs was incarcerated in Illinois, Avila-Torrez was charged in the 2009 murder of a Navy sailor at a barracks in Virginia and for stalking attacks on three women in northern Virginia in 2010. One of those victims was raped, choked and left for dead.

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Avila-Torrez was sentenced to death for the murder last year and also is serving five life sentences plus 168 years for the 2010 attacks.

DNA evidence collected from Avila-Torrez later linked him to the Zion slayings, authorities say. He was returned to Lake County in December to face trial.

If found guilty of the girls' murders, Avila-Torrez could be sentenced to another 100 years in prison. A life sentence is not possible because he was 16 at the time of the killings.

Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes is expected to rule on the DNA issue after an upcoming status hearing June 21.

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