Accused Lower Moreland killer had previous court case with victim

NORRISTOWN — Just days before a Maryland man allegedly fatally shot his ex-girlfriend at her Lower Moreland home, the woman testified in court that he physically restrained her and tore her dress during a previous domestic-related incident at his home, court papers revealed.

Montgomery County prosecutors maintain the prior testimony of murder victim Jeanne Edwards in a Maryland courtroom last November should be admissible as evidence against William Tomas Torres when he stands trial in connection with Edwards’ death.

“The victim testified about the defendant’s use of physical force to prevent her from leaving, including throwing her possessions from her car onto the ground, holding her physically and tearing her dress,” county Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood and co-prosecutor Matthew Brittenburg wrote in pretrial court documents. “These are the topics the Commonwealth now seeks to admit during the upcoming homicide trial.

“These controlling actions show his intent, motive, ill will and tell the complete story of their relationship,” prosecutors argued.

Defense lawyer Carrie Lynn Allman will have a chance to respond to the prosecutors’ request when Judge Cheryl L. Austin holds a hearing on the matter later this year.

Torres, 62, of Elkton, Md., is awaiting trial on charges of first- and third-degree murder, simple assault, possession of a weapon and recklessly endangering another person in connection with the alleged Nov. 25, 2019, fatal shooting of Edwards, 57.

Austin has set a tentative Nov. 9 trial date for Torres. The jury trial is expected to last about five days.

In court papers, prosecutors said Edwards and Torres began dating in June 2018.

“During their relationship, Ms. Edwards’ family and friends observed him to be very controlling and jealous,” Ringwood and Brittenburg alleged, adding Edwards ended the relationship in September 2019.

Before the relationship ended, police were called to Torres’ Maryland residence on Sept. 22, 2019, for an alleged domestic-related incident during which Edwards “reported a physical altercation with the defendant over her attempt to leave,” according to prosecutors. During the alleged incident, Torres grabbed Edwards by both arms to try to restrain her, causing her dress to tear, according to court documents.

At one point during the alleged altercation, Torres bent over and Edwards, in order to get him to stop his actions, used her knee to strike him in the forehead, causing a small cut above his eye, according to court papers.

Torres, who appeared intoxicated and allegedly gave police conflicting accounts of his actions, subsequently was charged with assault by Maryland authorities, court papers indicate.

Torres’ trial in connection with the incident occurred on Nov. 18, 2019, in Cecil County District Court in Maryland. Edwards testified during the trial at which Torres represented himself.

Torres ultimately was acquitted of the assault-related charge, the Maryland court apparently finding that prosecutors there failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the charge, court papers revealed.

While prosecutors want a jury to hear Edwards’ previous testimony, they want Austin to exclude the Maryland district court’s conclusions about the evidence that was presented.

A few days after the Maryland trial, on Nov. 25, Torres allegedly purchased a Winchester brand pump-action shotgun and ammunition from a firearms dealer in Havre de Grace, Md., according to court documents. After purchasing the firearm, Torres allegedly traveled to Edwards’ home in Lower Moreland.

The local investigation began about 5:24 p.m. Nov. 25 when Lower Moreland police responded to Edwards’ residence in the 2300 block of Dale Road for a report of a shooting. Arriving officers found Edwards suffering from an apparent gunshot wound, and she was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Edwards’ son told authorities he arrived home from work and heard a “pop” as he pulled into the driveway, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective Gregory Henry and Lower Moreland Detective Holly Halota.

When he entered the house, the victim’s son saw Torres, who he knew as his mother’s ex-boyfriend, standing in the doorway holding a shotgun pointed at him, according to the arrest affidavit.

“Torres told (the victim’s son) that his mother ruined his life. Torres then fled the house and (the victim’s son) called 911,” Henry and Halota wrote in the criminal complaint.

Limerick Township police arrested Torres a short time later at a private residence in that township.

A woman who resided at the Limerick residence told detectives she knew Torres for about a month and was dating him, according to court papers. The woman said Torres arrived at her home about 6:30 p.m. and said, “I need to tell you something,” according to the arrest affidavit.

Torres allegedly proceeded to tell the Limerick woman that he purchased a shotgun that day and drove to the home of his ex-girlfriend.

“Torres said he then shot his ex-girlfriend twice and was unsure if she ‘made it,’” detectives alleged in court papers.

The Limerick woman contacted township police, who observed a shotgun inside Torres’ 2016 Mercedes Benz, which was parked in the driveway of the Limerick woman’s residence.

During an autopsy, a forensic pathologist recovered shotgun pellets from the body of Edwards. The autopsy determined Edwards died as a result of multiple shotgun wounds to the torso, according to the criminal complaint.

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