LaSalle County, IL – January 20, 2016 – With the finding of the presence of some kind of foreign material on the undercarriage, Investigators have impounded the car believed to have struck and killed a Mendota woman and it not only shows damage consistent with an accident but other evidence that could implicate suspected driver Jose Torres.
Two sources with knowledge of the case, both speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a search team of La Salle police and agents from Bureau and La Salle counties located and confiscated on Saturday afternoon a silver Jaguar registered to Torres.
The car had been stored out of sight at an unspecified location and did show damage consistent with an accident. Otherwise, the vehicle was found intact with no evidence it was being dismantled for disposal.
Sources said the car was immediately secured for transport to a secure location where forensic technicians could analyze it for possible links to the Aug. 30 hit-and-run crash near Bureau that killed 19-year-old Jaquelin Martinez-Maldonado.
And both sources further confirmed that a visual inspection of the car — investigators were careful not to handle the vehicle and taint evidence — showed the presence of some kind of foreign material on the undercarriage.
All of which could tilt the burgeoning case against Torres, who was picked up Tuesday on a separate charge that broke the hit-and-run case open.
Torres, 20, of Oglesby was charged after a repossession agent attempted to seize his Jaguar. Torres refused to cooperate and was charged with committing financial institution fraud by concealing collateral, a Class 3 felony with a base sentencing range of 2-5 years.
It now is known that the repo agent came away empty-handed and that it was Torres’ refusal to turn over the car that led to the felony filing. Torres’ arrest set off a renewed search for the vehicle and investigators found it some 48 hours after Torres’ first court appearance.
The discovery of the Jaguar — and the attached material — increases the likelihood Torres could face additional charges in Bureau County, where he’s headed Tuesday afternoon to face a preliminary charge of failure to report an accident involving death.
Even if there are no new charges, Torres could face significant time if convicted of not reporting Martinez’s fatal injuries. He was deemed extended-term eligible on the La Salle County fraud/repossession charge (due mainly to an extensive juvenile record) and Bureau County prosecutors could in turn seek an extended sentence up to 30 years for failure to report.
A formal sentencing range will be disclosed when Torres appears before Bureau County Judge C.J. Hollerich at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday.