United States v. Torrez, No. 14-1 (4th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of first degree murder and sentence of death. The court found defendant's challenges to his conviction were without merit. The court rejected defendant's contention that his death sentence was unconstitutional because it was based solely on post-offense conviction aggravators; that the district court erred in failing to apply the categorical approach to state convictions that made him death penalty eligible; and that the district court erred by allowing him to forego a mitigation defense without conducting a second competency evaluation and hearing. The court held that the evidence clearly supported the special finding of the existence of an aggravating factor required to be considered under 18 U.S.C. 3592. The court also held that the sentence of death was not imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice, or any other arbitrary factor.