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Published: Friday, 4/9/2004

Herrera to serve 10 days for death

Joshua Herrera Joshua Herrera
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Joshua Herrera, who shot and killed Ricky Torres, Jr., after a fight at an East Toledo party last year, will serve a sentence of just 10 days in prison for his conviction yesterday of misdemeanor negligent homicide by a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury.

The jury - the second in the controversial case - began deliberations Wednesday, but broke for the night. Yesterday, they resumed deliberations and found Mr. Herrera not guilty of two more serious charges: voluntary manslaughter and reckless homicide. Those charges carry potential prison terms of 10 years and five years, respectively.

Judge James Bates then sentenced Mr. Herrera, 18, of 2726 North Erie St., to six months in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in Stryker, which is the maximum penalty permitted by law for the crime.

However, the defendant will serve only 10 days in the facility because he received credit for the 170 days he was held in the Lucas County jail while awaiting trial.

"That probably is not a sufficient sentence, but is the only sentence I can impose in this case," Judge Bates said.

Mr. Torres' mother and some other relatives present sobbed after the verdict was read. They then left the courtroom.

Joan Coleman, executive director of the county victims assistance program, said the family did not wish to talk about the verdict.

A different jury heard evidence last month in the case, but the panel could not reach a verdict on whether Mr. Herrera was guilty or innocent of voluntary manslaughter, which was the only charge he faced.

Mr. Torres, 21, of East Toledo, was shot once in the stomach on Sept. 27 after a fight broke out in the early hours outside a party in the 2200 block of Seaman Street in East Toledo.

Mr. Herrera, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter, claims he shot Mr. Torres, an amateur boxer, in self-defense when Mr. Torres leaned into a car driven by Mr. Herrera and started punching him in the head.

Before being sentenced yesterday, Mr. Herrera apologized to the Torres family for the shooting. He told them that he didn't intend to kill Mr. Torres, 21, who was the father of three children.

"If you didn't have a gun, this wouldn't have happened that night," Judge Bates told the defendant. "But regardless of what the facts and circumstances are, as a result, a life was taken."

Andrew Lastra, an assistant county prosecutor, said the outcome of the case was the "most hollow conviction" of his nearly 20 years as a prosecutor.

"How do you justify a 21-year-old man losing his life at the end of gun, and the person who did it gets basically 10 days in jail?" he asked.

Ricky Torres, Sr., the father of the victim, was critical of Mark Herr, the assistant county prosecutor assigned to the case for the first trial, and had indicated he was hopeful of a more optimistic outcome under Mr. Lastra.



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