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MMA fighter won't be charged in home invasion killing

Created: 07/24/2014 11:46 AM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com

The Dona Ana County District Attorney's Office on Thursday announced that after a thorough investigation, they will not pursue charges against a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter who killed a home invasion suspect near Las Cruces in January.

On New Year's Day, deputies said Sal Garces, 25, and three other men forced their way into a home in the 600 block of King James Avenue. The group reportedly had an unresolved issue with Joe Torrez, an MMA fighter living at that address.

Deputies said Torrez, his fiancee and a toddler were at home at the time of the invasion. Garces and Torrez then got into a fight.

When deputies arrived, they found Garces in the road with stab wounds. He later died from his injuries.

The Dona Ana County sheriff's investigation included numerous interviews, fingerprint and DNA analysis and a complete autopsy report. The district attorney's office says there was not enough evidence to prove Torrez killed Garces without legal justification.

"The decision not to charge Mr. Torrez is based on the facts and the forensic evidence presented by DASO. In particular, it was the scientific evidence that led to that conclusion," District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said.

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.


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