Judge overturns murder conviction

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez has overturned the 2000 murder conviction of 39-year-old Geovanny Torres. Gonzalez said at a hearing today that failure to consider Torres' claims of prosecutorial misconduct in the case "would lead to a fundamental miscarriage of justice."

Torres, a Cuban emigre who is now eight years into a life sentence, challenged his conviction based on newly presented evidence that raised doubts about the credibility of the prosecution's star witness.

At Torres' trial, a jailhouse informant testified that Torres confessed to him about a 1996 shooting at El Matador restaurant on South Maryland Parkway. Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent repeatedly told jurors that the informant had no incentive to testify against Torres.

In fact, court documents show the informant was getting a major reduction in his sentence in Florida based on his cooperation against Torres and other defendants.

Gonzalez, in setting a new trial date of Oct. 13, said the new evidence "indicates that a different result is probable" if Torres is retried.

The judge declined a request by Torres' attorney to have her client immediately released from custody. Instead, Gonzalez set Torres' bail at $250,000.


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