A Maryland man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after being found guilty of first-degree murder for shooting his ex-girlfriend to death with a shotgun.
Prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood, had urged jurors to convict William Torres, 63, in the November 2019 slaying of Jeanne Edwards inside her Lower Moreland home.
“To find him guilty of manslaughter would be an injustice,” Ringwood said in her closing argument Wednesday. “It would trivialize his conduct, it would ignore the evidence, and it would validate his ludicrous story.”
Wednesday’s verdict came after a little less than two hours of jury deliberations. Torres briefly addressed Edwards’ family afterward, insisting her death was an accident.
“I know it’s hard to believe,” he said, “but what I said was the truth.”
Earlier in the trial, Torres took the stand, telling jurors he drove to Edwards’ home after a lengthy phone call with her, and planned to kill himself with the shotgun in front of her to show how what he described as their abusive relationship had “ruined him.”
The gun went off accidentally, he said, as Edwards tried to push it out of his hands. And he said the weapon accidentally discharged a second time as he stood over her body.
Torres’ attorney, Carrie Allman, called the shooting “a tragic accident by someone who doesn’t know how to work a firearm,” and asked jurors to acquit him of all charges.
“Mr. Torres did not intentionally kill Ms. Edwards,” Allman said. “Mr. Torres, suffering from the way he was feeling … went there to kill himself. It’s a recipe for disaster, but it’s not a murder.”
A county coroner testified that Edwards was shot twice at distances of less than two feet. She was pronounced dead at the scene by medics summoned to her home by her son Alex, who arrived moments after Torres fired the fatal shots.
Torres’ version of events “defies logic and common sense,” Ringwood said, and was concocted after nearly two years spent in prison and with the benefit of hearing all of the prosecutors’ evidence in the trial.
“This case is about someone who felt so entitled to someone’s affection that he took her life,” she said.
On the witness stand Tuesday, Torres gave an emotional recounting of what he described as a toxic, on-and-off-again relationship with Edwards, a longtime education consultant and mother of two children. The couple’s time together began happily, he said, with trips to Broadway, Florida, and Spain.
“It was very good. I was in love with her,” said Torres, a tennis instructor. “I found someone very compatible with me, and I wanted to take care of her.”
But the lavish dinners and shopping trips began to erode Torres’ finances, he said. He struggled to pay his mortgage, and began asking his tennis students for advances on the tuition for his lessons.
Then, after a trip to Chicago in September 2019, he said, Edwards told him she didn’t love him, and tried to leave his home with a $500 suitcase he had just bought for her.
They ended up in a physical fight, he said, and Edwards hit him in the head with her knee, drawing blood. He said he, in turn, ripped her dress and was charged with assault. The charges were later dropped when Edwards took to the stand in a Maryland courtroom and admitted being the aggressor.
In October, still reeling from that incident, Torres was so depressed, he said, he went to a gun store in Havre de Grace, Md., and tried to buy a shotgun to take his own life. He said he told the clerk he wanted the gun to hunt birds, but the state’s five-day waiting period prevented him from walking out with the weapon that day.
On the morning of the shooting, as Torres was driving back to Maryland from another woman’s home, Edwards initiated a 21-minute phone call that left him “devastated,” he said.
During that call, Torres drove to the gun store, according to investigators. Minutes later, he had the .12-gauge shotgun he had tried to purchase weeks earlier.
Torres then drove two hours north, to Edwards’ house. His intention, he said, was to fatally shoot himself in front of her, to show her how much pain she had causedhim.
“I wanted her to know how I was feeling,” Torres said. “How I didn’t want to live anymore.”