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Hagerstown teen charged in fatal shooting will have case heard in juvenile court

July 17, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Jenaro J. Torres
File photo

A teenager charged as an adult in the April shooting death of a Hagerstown man will have his case heard in juvenile court after agreeing Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court to testify against one of his co-defendants.

Judge John H. McDowell granted a petition by defense attorney Bernard W. Semler II to transfer the case of 16-year-old Jenaro J. Torres, of 19 Broadway, Apt. 2, Hagerstown, to juvenile court.

As part of the agreement worked out with prosecutors, Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael said Torres had to give a full and truthful video statement to Hagerstown police about events in the April 20 shooting of Steven Andrew O’Brien at his Randolph Avenue home.

That statement was taken on Friday, and Detective Tammy Jurado told McDowell that she believed the statement to be truthful.

Torres was 15 when he, his brother Eduardo Emilio Gonzalez, 26, and Cory Antonio Usher, 36, of 453 W. Antietam St., Apt. 12, were charged in the shooting death of O’Brien.

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Michael told McDowell that the agreement calls for Torres to be available to testify against Usher, who police allege shot O’Brien, but he will not have to testify against his brother, Gonzalez.

Michael told the court that Torres’ statement outlines the involvement of all three suspects, and that Gonzalez “has given a statement that implicates himself.”

Torres must also make an admission to armed robbery in juvenile court, Michael said.

Semler advised Torres that his admission could result in him being placed in a juvenile facility for six months or a year. McDowell told Torres he could find himself under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court until he is 21.

McDowell noted from charging documents that Torres “was involved as the one who pointed out the location of the victim’s house, but did not participate in the actual shooting,” remaining in a vehicle.

Members of both O’Brien’s and Torres’ families were present at the hearing. Michael said O’Brien’s family had been kept informed of the possible transfer of Torres’ case to juvenile court.

“This has affected a lot of folks,” O’Brien’s father, John O’Brien, said after the hearing. “I can’t put into words how grateful we are” to the Hagerstown police and Detectives Jurado and Jesse Duffey, he said.

Usher, Gonzalez and Torres were charged with first- and second-degree murder, armed robbery, robbery, theft and criminal conspiracy, court records said.

Usher also was charged with use of a handgun in a crime of violence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and carrying a firearm, according to court records.

Usher had a 2007 robbery conviction in Washington County, circuit court records said.

O’Brien was found in his apartment on April 20 shortly after 7 p.m., dead from a gunshot wound to the left side of his head. A .40-caliber shell casing was found at the scene.

O’Brien’s cellphone showed he sent a mass text message that day saying he had marijuana for sale.

At the time of their arrests in May, Usher, Gonzalez and Torres conspired to rob O’Brien of marijuana and cash, according to charging documents.

Usher and Gonzalez went into the apartment and Usher shot O’Brien, the documents said.

Torres remained in vehicle during the robbery and shooting, the documents said.

A “source of information” told police on May 6 that O’Brien was killed with a Glock .40-caliber Model 23, and identified Gonzalez and Usher as suspects. The source said Torres was a frequent visitor to O’Brien’s apartment.

The source told police the gun was registered to Gonzalez’s girlfriend. That gun had a test-fire shell casing on file with the Maryland Automated Firearms Services System, the documents said.

Newly purchased firearms in Maryland come with two test-fired casings from the manufacturer that are maintained by the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Division for comparison with casings found at crime scenes, the documents said.

That cartridge casing matched the one found in O’Brien’s apartment, the documents said.

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