(AP) A man was convicted of murder Monday in the 1998 slaying of an 11-year-old girl who disappeared while delivering newspapers.
A Superior Court jury found Jose Torres guilty of murder and capitol felony in the death of his neighbor, Angelica Padilla. He will face life in prison without the possibility of parole as prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty.
On August 13, 1998, Padilla failed to return home from her afternoon newspaper route. Seven hours later, Willimantic police discovered her partially clad body on a wooded hillside behind her apartment complex, where Torres also lived. Police said her shirt was pulled up and her shorts were missing.
Prosecutors said the girl was hit in the head with a blunt object in the laundry room of Torres’ building and dragged out to the woods, where her throat was slit. Authorities also said they believe Torres tried to sexually assault her.
During the trial, experts testified that DNA extracted from a semen stain on Padilla’s shorts could have come from Torres.
Defense attorney Mark Shapira argued that both the timeline and the evidence in the state’s case were lacking.
At the time of the slaying, the case drew concern over whether Connecticut’s laws adequately warned residents about sexual offenders living in their community.
Torres had been convicted of third-degree sexual assault in 1996 in an attack on his girlfriend. He had been on the state’s sex offender registry, but was not listed at the proper address.
Padilla’s family said they were not aware that he was a convicted sex offender.