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A Lancaster man was convicted Thursday afternoon of first-degree murder for what a prosecutor called the “execution” last year of 22-year-old Austin Peters.
Raymond Torres faces a mandatory life-in-prison term when he is sentenced Dec. 27 by Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn Jr.
Torres, 25, fatally shot Peters three times Dec. 10, 2017, in the 700 block of First Street.
First Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Larsen presented at the four-day trial surveillance video footage of the two men walking in that area – the one man determined to be Torres, with a gun – just minutes before Peters was shot.
Larsen told the jury Torres killed Peters execution-style, shooting him at close range, first from behind and just below an ear, then twice more as Peters laid on his back on the sidewalk. There were no defensive wounds, which indicated Peters had no idea he was about to be shot.
Each of the three shots were fatal, Larsen presented to the jury.
The jury deliberated about an hour over lunch break before deciding the case Thursday about 1 p.m.
As for a motive, Larsen said it is unknown – only Torres knows why he did it – and that proving a motive was not necessary to support a first-degree murder verdict.
“The Lancaster city police, specifically Detective Sgt. Nathan Nickel, conducted a thorough investigation to tie up all loose ends and make it easier on the jury in reaching an appropriate verdict,” Larsen said afterward.
Among the evidence were 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.
Another video clip showed Torres racking the slide on a pistol about two blocks from the homicide scene. Torres and Peters are closeby in all the video footage.
Larsen also pointed out that Torres lied to police about his whereabouts prior to the homicide.
Detective Sgt. Nickel filed charges.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright