EPHRATA — A month after Jonathan Torres’ attorney requested he undergo a mental health evaluation to determine whether he was fit to stand trial, Torres was found competent and forced into court Tuesday.
Torres, 21, of Royal City, initially refused to appear before Grant County Superior Court Judge David Estudillo Monday, until the public defender agreed to prosecutors’ request to have a shackled Torres dragged into court by force if necessary.
After being forced to appear for arraignment, Torres was read his rights as a defendant, but when handed a copy of the rights so he might follow along, Torres destroyed the document in open court, transcripts show. Judge Estudillo asked Torres whether he had any questions regarding the rights spelled out on the destroyed document, and Torres said he “doesn’t know what he is doing here,” according to court documents.
The judge then began to read off the charges against Torres, seeking a plea on each charge, but Torres instead told the judge “(Expletive) you,” after Estudillo read off the first-degree murder charge. In lieu of a direct answer, the court took Torres’ initial outburst and subsequent silence — except to say he was “not talking to you” — as a not guilty plea for each charge.
Torres is alleged to have shot and killed his father, 58-year-old Jesus Torres Flores, in late November. Jonathan was apprehended later the same day, but not before authorities used a Taser on him after he allegedly grabbed hold of a deputy’s rifle.
Torres is facing charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, attempted first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, resisting arrest and attempted disarming of a law enforcement officer. Several of the charges come attached with aggravating circumstances that could add to any final sentence.
Defense Attorney Michael Morgan told the court that his client has also been refusing to speak with him — before Torres was dismissed Monday, Judge Estudillo recommended that he work with his attorney.