Volume 73, Number 44 | March 3 - 9, 2004

St. Mark’s pastor’s son facing trial for stabbing

By Keith Crandell

On the most joyous day of the Christian year, Easter Sunday, the Rev. Julio Torres, pastor of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, and his wife, Maria, were hospitalized two years ago with stab wounds inflicted by Father Torres’s son, Javier, who had come to New York from his home in Baltimore to visit his father and stepmother for the Easter holiday.

The incident was a nightmare, but so have been the days since.

On Fri., March 5, with Easter fast approaching again, Javier faces criminal trial, even though the victims of the stabbings have refused to press charges because they are convinced that he was and is mentally ill.

Placed under arrest after turning himself in, Javier Torres has been held in the city prison on Riker’s Island and in the nearby Kirby Hospital for the mentally ill. According to Javier’s sister, Elisa, and his anguished father, Javier has several times been beaten by fellow prisoners on Riker’s and occasionally held in solitary confinement.

“This is definitely not the way you treat someone who is mentally ill,” Father Torres said last week. “Maria and I do not believe he should be in prison, where he has been mistreated. Nor do we believe he should be standing trial, because he is mentally ill. He should be hospitalized until he is able to take his place in society.”

Ironically, Father and Mrs. Torres, victims of the stabbing, have arranged for Javier’s defense. On advice of their attorney, Peter Mitchell, Javier will seek a plea-bargain arrangement under which allowance will be made for time served while awaiting trial. He would then be committed to a mental hospital.

According to Father Torres, Javier, now 29 years old, had been in a mental hospital in Baltimore and prematurely released. Visiting in New York, he neglected to take medication.

Urged to testify against Javier, Father Torres and his wife both refused.

Can the district attorney continue to prosecute the case, though the victims decline to testify? A criminal lawyer and forensic psychiatrist told The Villager off the record last week that, even though the victims refuse to testify, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s office can still follow through with criminal prosecution.

“Theoretically, Father Torres and his wife could be subpoenaed and even charged with contempt of court if they refuse to testify. It would be unlikely for the prosecution to carry the case that far,” he said.


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