Smith County 7th District Judge Kerry Russell on Monday dismissed the charges against Emma Torres, who is expected to provide information against Simon Lopez, who faces a capital murder charge in the death.
Ms. Torres will be prosecuted on two child abandonment/endangerment charges, with bonds totaling $1 million, Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said Monday. One of those is a second-degree felony charge in the abandoning and endangering her son, 18-month-old Jeremy Silva, in 2010. The other is a state jail felony charge of abandoning and endangering Ms. Torres' 4-year-old child. Ms. Torres remains jailed on those charges.
Bingham said in court that if Ms. Torres changes her mind about helping prosecutors in the Lopez capital murder case or does not provide information that is helpful to them in proving their case against him, she still could be re-indicted on capital murder charges. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty for Ms. Torres but are seeking the death penalty for Lopez, Bingham said in court.
Simon Lopez, 28, is charged with capital murder in the death of Ms. Lopez' 18-month-old son in July 2010. Lopez was babysitting Silva and another child while their mother, his girlfriend, was at work, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. He reportedly contacted the boy's aunt and told her he was not breathing. Silva was dropped off with the aunt and then taken to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
U.S. Marshals arrested Lopez in Mexico in July 2011. Autopsy reports showed the baby died from heart damage resulting from blunt force trauma to the chest, according to information from police. The Lopez trial is set for February 2013.
Doctors also noticed other signs of abuse, including strangulation, broken ribs and severe bruising, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Russell told Bingham in court Monday that he thought the prosecution's motion for dismissal was a way to continue Ms. Torres' capital murder case, which was set for Sept. 13.
“We're trying to talk to the defendant to seek the truth. This was not filed as a basis for continuance. If the court says to try it on Sept. 13, we will try it,” Bingham responded to Russell.
Bingham said several times in court that his office wants justice in the Lopez case and that if Ms. Torres is willing to cooperate, they want to use her information to help convict Lopez of the capital crime.
Defense attorneys Bobby Mims and Jason Cassel said Ms. Torres had agreed to cooperate. “We believe she will properly resolve these cases,” Mims said in court. Mims and Cassel will continue to represent Ms. Torres in the child abandonment cases.
There is a restrictive and protective order in place on the Lopez case, which means there can be no comment outside of the courtroom.