Brother shields brother in gang plea
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
WENATCHEE — A Wenatchee man pleaded guilty Monday to gang-related witness tampering in order to shorten his brother’s jail sentence.
Isidro “El Matón” Torres Galvez, 26, and Emmanuel “Lil Tone” Torres Galvez, 19, both of Wenatchee, each pleaded guilty to witness tampering in a case where Wenatchee police said their own investigation reports were used as threats.
On Aug. 4, the two were accused of approaching a woman at Walla Walla Point Park and giving her a copy of a 2011 police report that named her as a key witness against Isidro Torres. A police affidavit filed in the case claims the distribution of police reports is a common gang method of threatening witnesses.
On Monday, the elder Torres — identified by police as a Colonia Chiques gangmember — pleaded guilty to witness tampering while maintaining his innocence. His plea statement said he took the Alford plea “solely to take advantage of the prosecutor’s offer to reduce my brother’s exposure to longer jail time should he go to trial.”
He was sentenced to four months in jail, with credit for time already served.
An hour later, Emmanuel Torres gave his own Alford plea, and received 12 months. Both pleaded down from their original charges of intimidating a witness and violating a protective order.
“Are you a gangmember?” Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges asked the elder Torres in court.
“Yes, your honor,” Torres said. “Ex-gangmember, actually. But I guess that’s never going to change now.”
Torres and his attorney, John Beuhler, won admission of a police report that appears to show he was miles away from the park at the time. Beuhler told Bridges the facts did not appear to rise to the level of witness tampering or intimidation.
“It was a very defensible case,” Beuhler said. “However, it was not just my client.”
Torres, a father of two, said he had set a bad example for his younger brother Emmanuel and wanted to protect him by taking the plea.
“I said, ‘This is a one-time thing I’m going to do for you. It’s not what I wanted on my record.’”
Isidro Torres has two prior felony convictions, for a 2005 drive-by shooting and a 2010 third-degree assault. Emmanuel’s only previous conviction is his August guilty plea to three counts of third-degree assault in the March 27 death of Osvaldo Ramirez, 19, who was found stabbed to death in an East Wenatchee driveway.
In that case, the younger Torres acknowledged striking Ramirez with his car before his death. Another man, Jorge “C-Loc” Sanchez Sanchez, 21, of East Wenatchee, entered an Alford plea last month to first-degree manslaughter in Ramirez’s fatal stabbing.
Prior to his death, Ramirez had given information to police who were investigating Isidro Torres for allegedly pointing a handgun at rival gangmembers in the East Wenatchee Safeway parking lot in December 2010. According to court records, police believed Ramirez might have been killed in retaliation, although witnesses and participants told them Ramirez’s death resulted from a continuation of a nightclub fight that had begun the previous evening.
Before Bridges, Emmanuel Torres denied the death of Ramirez was gang-related, and denied being a gangmember.
“Then why are you and your brother passing around these police statements?” Bridges asked.
“I wouldn’t think that just handing over some police statements would be breaking the law,” Torres said.
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123
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