SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A man wanted for the 2005 murder of a sleeping 10-year-old boy picked the wrong time to write to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who’s a former prosecutor.
The governor and other New Mexico officials announced Tuesday that 32-year-old Noe Torres had been arrested last week by authorities in Mexico after a personal appeal for help to the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Torres has been on the lam since the boy was shot in the head while sleeping in his bedroom in the eastern New Mexico community of Clovis in September 2005.
Torres sent a rambling letter to Martinez that arrived in the governor’s office on Jan. 18. He professed his innocence and said he was “not acting on arrogance” by appealing for her help with a “bogus warrant for my arrest.”
By chance, Martinez was to meet the next day with Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte along with other Mexican officials about possible economic development initiatives.
During a dinner, Martinez handed Duarte a packet of information about the case, including information gathered by federal authorities on where Torres had been regularly spotted in Chihuahua.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said police from Chihuahua arrested Torres on Jan. 25 as he was attempting to leave a “religious compound.” Torres apparently had been working there, he said.
Martinez said it was the first letter she had received from Torres although he had tauntingly telephoned Chandler in the past.
“Ironically I was able to help this family because Noe Torres foolishly sent me a letter asking me to help him. This guy wanted me to send him a message and he wanted me to send him a message through the media,” Martinez said at a news conference. “So Noe, here is my message …. I don’t help child killers.”
Torres is awaiting extradition and should be returned to the U.S. in 60 to 90 days, according to Chandler. If convicted of first-degree murder, Torres could be sentenced to life in prison.
The boy, Carlos Perez, died a day before his 11th birthday. He was struck in the head by one of nine shots fired through his bedroom window. The other shots struck furniture. The boy shared the bedroom with his older brother, who police say was the intended target as retaliation for an argument that took place earlier between high school students.
Four others have pleaded guilty or were convicted of crimes for their involvement in the killing although one of them escaped from jail in 2008 and hasn’t been captured.
The victim’s 26-year-old sister, Patricia Perez, joined Martinez and Chandler at a news conference in the Capitol, thanking authorities for finally arresting Torres.
“Carlos loved to play football. He was an outgoing child like any other kid. He was never in trouble. Carlos was a good kid,” she said, holding up a photograph of her brother with a toothy grin.