Video evidence and matching shell casings led Lancaster city police to Raymond Torres Jr., who is charged with shooting to death 22-year-old Austin Peters last year.
Those findings were discussed at a recent preliminary hearing, which ended with District Judge Adam Witkonis ordering Torres, 25, to face a homicide charge and related illegal gun-possession charges in Lancaster County Court.
First Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Larsen argued that “Peters was assassinated” by Torres, shot once in the neck at close range and multiple other times in the torso Dec. 10, 2017, in the 700 block of First Street.
An autopsy revealed the neck shot was a contact wound, fired at very close range, from behind Peters.
Larsen called Lancaster city police Detective Sgt. Nathan Nickel to testify of numerous surveillance-video clips that showed Torres and Peters walking, together, around the city for about an hour.
In one clip, Torres is seen firing a gun multiple times into the air. Shell casings – of 9 mm-caliber Luger and Blazer brands – found at that location were also the same caliber and brands found at the homicide scene.
While 9 mm is a common caliber, Larsen said in a closing argument, he rhetorically asked, “What are the chances” two separate shooters (and firearms) would have two different brands, with both brands matching?
Another video clip of note showed Torres racking the slide on a pistol about two blocks from the homicide scene, Nickel testified. Torres and Peters are closeby in all the video footage, Nickel testified.
Larsen also pointed out that Torres lied to police about his whereabouts prior to the homicide. Torres admitted to being with Peters at a party and then for a short time after; however, he told police the two men then went their separate ways.
Video evidence contradicts that, Larsen pointed out.
“He just didn’t realize he was on video,” Larsen said.
Detective Sgt. Nickel filed charges.
Torres is presumed innocent.
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