Felipe "Fel" Torres, 44, the former drummer for the Cold Hard Cash Show convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend earlier this year, was sentenced Thursday to 12 months in jail, all suspended save the 100 days of pretrial jail time already served.
Before sentencing, County Attorney Kristen Pabst asked to read testimony from another woman who has an order of protection against Torres, but after objection by the defense, Judge Shane Vannatta declined to have the testimony read into the record, as it regarded alleged crimes outside the scope of the trial.
Prior to the sentencing, Torres’ lawyer asked the judge to consider that it was Torres’ first partner family member assault conviction, and that it would be unconstitutional to sentence him beyond the bounds of a typical first offense.
For his remarks at sentencing, Torres said he had returned to his home after trial for the first time since July, finding his property all stolen, in the process of eviction, and was fired after going back to work for one day.
The victim’s mother spoke at the sentencing, telling Judge Vannatta that the only thing providing any comfort to her or her family was knowing the documented conviction could alert any future victims to Torres’ abusive past.
The jury trial last week found Torres guilty of one misdemeanor assault charge, but the jury found him not guilty of felony strangulation, and the jury was hung on a second misdemeanor assault charge.
Pabst asked the judge to dismiss the second misdemeanor charge without prejudice, and Vannatta agreed to the request, meaning the case could be retried later. However, Pabst said the victim had been extremely distraught from her testimony and was not ready to go through it again in the near future.
During the trial, the victim’s drug use and mental health were extensively questioned in a means to degrade her credibility, Pabst said.
“What happened to her in this courtroom amounted to an assassination of her character by Mr. Torres during this trial, and it was very traumatizing to her,” Pabst said. “She is understandably loath to endure a repeat trial of her character.”
The charges stemmed from three incidents, beginning in January, in which the victim said Torres had assaulted her at her workplace, headbutted her at their home, and then strangled her when she tried to leave him in July.
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In addition to the suspended sentence, Torres was ordered to undergo twice weekly drug and alcohol testing, banned from owning a firearm or other weapons, attend a batterers intervention program and a victims advocacy class, and have no contact with the victim or other previous victims who have orders of protection against him. Additionally, he was ordered to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation and follow all recommendations, pay a $500 fine with $150 suspended, and pay various court fees.
After more than a day of deliberations, the jury could not decide about the alleged workplace assault, in which the woman claimed Torres had tried clawing her from a friend's car in the parking lot. She had left the home where she was living with Torres and others to get away from him, she testified during the trial last week.
But in his testimony, Torres said he went to the woman's workplace because he was concerned about her methamphetamine use or mental health challenges, both of which she spoke about in testimony.
The incident at her workplace was captured on surveillance footage, but law enforcement never followed up in retrieving it from the business.
Prosecutors brought as witnesses roommates living at the house at the time, some who said they tried to help the woman get out of the house and away from Torres. She had moved back into the home in April.
Despite a restraining order barring him from contacting her, the victim testified Torres soon reached out to her from an unknown number. She also testified last week that on July 10, they were arguing about his sexually-charged texts with another woman when he put his hands out, cocked his head back and headbutted her in the nose.
A roommate took a picture of the split in the victims nose, which was presented to the jury.
The defense also brought a roommate who said she heard one altercation in which the woman appeared to be the aggressor. That woman would have been the defense's only witness, had Torres not decided at the last moment to testify.
Seaborn Larson contributed reporting.