GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A teen involved in the seven mile, high-speed chase that ended in a crash that killed two people, including his cousin, was trying to avoid jail when he fled police, his attorney contends.
“What was he doing driving that fast? Well, he was trying to get away from the officers without getting caught,’’ defense attorney James Kiebel said. “Did he ever ponder the chance that anyone could get hurt? That there was a likelihood? No. All he thought about was getting away from the officers.’’
Alejandro Torrez, 16, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the March 11 crash in Kentwood that killed his cousin and a Calvin College student returning to her dormitory. His trial got underway this week in Kent County Circuit Court.
Kiebel called the crash horrific, but contends Torrez should not be convicted of second-degree murder, a potential life offense.
“Was it every parents’ worse nightmare? Definitely. I couldn’t imagine getting the call myself,’’ Kiebel told jurors in opening statements on Tuesday. “But you won’t hear my client knowingly created this situation. Knowingly.’’
A Michigan State Police trooper clocked Torrez driving 90 mph on U.S. 131 south of Grand Rapids. The trooper pursued the Chrysler 300 after Torrez exited at 54th Street.
Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin said the decisions Torrez made and his actions justify guilty verdicts.
“The defendant created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or harm was a likely result of his actions,’’ Boivin told jurors in opening statements before Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan.
Police say Torrez ran four red lights before his eastbound car ran another light at the intersection of 52nd Street and Broadmoor Avenue SE. He collided with a Honda Accord driven by 21-year-old Tara Lynn Oskam. She was heading north on Broadmoor and had a green light when her car was struck.
“At the point of impact, he’s traveling at 107 miles an hour,’’ Boivin told jurors.
Oskam, who was wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. David Feliciano Torrez, a 15-year-old passenger in his cousin’s car, also died at the scene.
“You’re going to hear that he had a suspended license, he wasn’t supposed to be driving,’’ Boivin told jurors. “And you’re going to see the evidence that he was fleeing police.’’
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