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Autopsy released on suspect killed during break-in at MMA fighter's home

Updated: 06/26/2014 1:11 PM | Created: 06/26/2014 12:57 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- An autopsy report has been released on the home invasion suspect who deputies say was killed by a trained Mixed Martial Arts fighter near Las Cruces in January.

According to the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office, the investigation into Sal Garces' death remains open while key pieces of evidence remain under examination.

Garces, 25, was with his brother and two other men when they allegedly forced their way into a home in the 600 block of King James Avenue in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2014.

Investigators say the group reportedly had an unresolved issue with Joe Torrez, an MMA fighter living at that address, which stemmed from an earlier altercation on New Year's Eve. 

According to authorities, Torrez, his fiancee and a toddler were at home at the time of the invasion. Deputies said the fiancee tried to use her body against the front door to keep the men from entering.

Garces and Torrez then reportedly got into a fight.

When Doña Ana County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the address, they found Garces lying in the road, reportedly suffering from injuries he sustained during the fight.

The autopsy report released by the UNM Office of the Medical Examiner indicates Garces suffered four stab wounds to the chest, which injured his heart and left lung.

The report also says Garces received one cut to his neck, five cuts to the head and one on his left arm. A toxicology report indicated Garces had a blood alcohol level of 0.126.

The report depicts Garces' wounds as "consistent with injury from a serrated knife."

Investigators collected a serrated knife from the crime scene, which was sent for DNA and fingerprint analysis to the Department of Public Safety Forensic Crime Lab in Santa Fe. The results of that analysis – and other pieces of evidence that were also collected at the scene – have still not been returned to the sheriff's office.

In January, officials said Torrez may face charges in the death, but according to investigators, a recommendation on whether to pursue charges cannot be made until all evidence is processed.

Since the incident, five people have been arrested in connection with the alleged invasion.

Raymond Garces, 19, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and criminal damage to property. Leonard Calvillo, 23, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and criminal damage to property. Nathan Avalos, 20, was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property.

Investigators say all three men were accompanied by two women, Cylver Pearl Betancourt, 18, and Rachel Carrillo, 20. Both Betancourt and Carrillo were also arrested on charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated battery and one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Deputies say Joe Torrez, a trained MMA fighter, killed a home invasion suspect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Photo: Las Cruces Sun-News

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