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Murder trial begins for Maryland man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend days after he was acquitted of assaulting her

William "Tommy" Torres, 63, is accused of shooting Jeanne Edwards twice in the abdomen with a shotgun in November 2019.

William Torres, 63, is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Jeanne Edwards in November 2019.
William Torres, 63, is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Jeanne Edwards in November 2019.Read moreVinny Vella / Staff

Prosecutors described William “Tommy” Torres as an abusive ex who drove two hours from his home in Maryland, armed with a shotgun, to kill his former girlfriend in her Montgomery County home. His defense lawyer said Torres was a troubled man bent on harming himself and not Jeanne Edwards, the woman he shot to death in November 2019.

Those dueling scenarios were offered to a jury in the Norristown courtroom of Common Pleas Court Judge William Carpenter on Monday as Torres went on trial for murder.

Torres, 63, faces charges of first- and third-degree murder in the slaying of Edwards, 58, his girlfriend of two years. Authorities say the former tennis instructor drove from his home in Elkton, Md., to Edwards’ house in Lower Moreland Township and shot her twice in the stomach with a pump-action shotgun.

Just days before Torres made that trip, he was in a Maryland courtroom facing domestic-violence charges after Edwards told police he attacked her and tore her dress in a fight outside his home. But on the stand she recanted and said she had been the aggressor and had hit him, inflicting a minor injury to his face. A judge found Torres not guilty.

» READ MORE: He was acquitted of assaulting his girlfriend. He killed her a week later, police say.

Edwards, a mother of two and longtime education consultant, made clear during that hearing that she and Torres were no longer a couple, Assistant District Attorney Caroline Goldstein told jurors in Norristown on Monday.

“We’re broken up,” Edwards said, according to Goldstein. “We’re going to stay broken up.”

A week later, the prosecutor said, the jilted Torres killed his ex.

Afterward, Goldstein said, Torres fled to the home of another woman he was dating in Limerick, and also took the time to call a third woman. During that call, she said, he admitted to killing Edwards, saying that his former girlfriend had “made him go insane” and that he needed to turn himself in.

Goldstein argued that Torres’ actions demonstrated a specific intent to kill Edwards, and urged jurors to convict him of first-degree murder.

“He had two hours to think about what he’s going to do,” Goldstein said. “Two hours driving north with a shotgun.”

But Torres’ attorney, Carrie Allman, said he drove there with the intention of killing himself in front of Edwards. His life had been troubled in the weeks before the shooting as he struggled with financial issues, she said. And she urged jurors to acquit Torres of all charges, saying he shot Edwards accidentally.

“An outcome isn’t the same as intent, and an accident is not a murder,” Allman said.

She said the former couple’s relationship was “complicated” and had not ended as abruptly as prosecutors contended. The two were still dating at the time of the hearing in Maryland, Allman said, and had a 20-minute phone call the day of the shooting.

“The question for you isn’t ‘Who?’ but ‘How? and ‘Why?’” Allman said to the jury. “And you will not be able to answer those questions in a way that leads you to believe this was murder.”

» READ MORE: Montgomery County woman killed by ex-boyfriend in violent domestic dispute, DA says

Edwards’ son, Alex, testified Monday that he saw Torres moments after the fatal shots were fired. As he pulled into the garage of the home he shared with his mother, Alex Edwards said, Torres pointed the shotgun at him and mumbled incoherently.

The only words he could make out, he told jurors, were “Your mom ruined my life.” Torres then fled, leaving Edwards to discover his mother’s body in their living room.

The trial is expected to last through Wednesday.