State v. Torres

State v. Torres, 2013 MT 101 (April 16, 2013) (5-0) (Baker, J.)

Issue: (1) Whether Torres’ aggravated assault conviction was supported by sufficient evidence; (2) whether Torres’ burglary conviction was supported by sufficient evidence; and (3) whether the Court should exercise plain error review of Torres’ claim that his convictions violated double jeopardy.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes; and (3) no.


Facts: Zachariah Torres and his wife, Grendy, got into an argument after Torres discovered Grendy was taking money from him and his family and sending it to her family in Costa Rica. Grendy went to a friend’s house, and Torres came looking for her. When Grendy’s friend would not open the door, Torres broke the door down, entered the home, found Grendy, and left with her. The friend called 911 and reported the incident. After they arrived home, Torres got a Glock .45 from his truck and followed Grendy upstairs, pointing the gun at his own head. As the police arrived, they heard a muffled gunshot; Torres had opened the sliding glass door from the bedroom and fired a shot into the ground. The police surrounded the house and heard yelling and threats. Torres saw an officer aiming a rifle in his direction and closed the sliding glass door. He then fired a shot that shattered the glass and passed over the officers’ heads. Torres fired a third shot into the floor before surrendering.
The day after, Grendy told a victim’s advocate that that Torres had taken her from her friend’s house against her will, and that he had pushed her head into the windshield on the way home. She told a different story at trial, however, as did the friend.

Procedural Posture & Holding: After a five-day jury trial, Torres was convicted of aggravated assault, burglary, criminal endangerment, and assault on a peace officer. He was sentenced to eight years in prison with five suspended. Torres appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms.