Fairfax Officials Question Budget Implications of Police Body Cameras

Fairfax County officials want to take a closer look at the costs linked to adding body worn cameras to the county’s police department.

After studies observing the impact of police officers wearing body cameras while on duty, several members on the Board of Supervisors came out in support of the new proposal draft. As body worn cameras get closer to receiving the board’s approval, two supervisors want more information to determine the fiscal impact of the project.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity kicked off the discussion of the body worn cameras at the Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday (Sept. 17) by asking what the fiscal impact would be.

The program would cost about $6.2 million by fiscal year 2022, Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer told the board.

“That includes the Commonwealth Department of Information Technology, the police officers, the cameras, the storage and equipment,” Rohrer said. “It’s an all-in number.”

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that if Board of Supervisors approves the action items on the body worn cameras at the meeting next Tuesday (Sept. 24), he will request a report on how it could affect the budget for the Public Defenders’ Office.

Cook noted that the presentation about the pilot program included information about costs for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Photo via Fairfax County Police Department

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Fairfax County Board Expected to Vote on Police Body-Worn Camera Program This Month

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a body-worn camera program for the Fairfax County Police Department later this month.

If the board’s public safety committee votes in favor of the program today (Tuesday), the board will likely vote on the project on September 24.

Earlier this year, American University researchers analyzed the effects of body-worn cameras on the use of force, changes in policing activities, community members’ assessments of police legitimacy, and the number of community complaints. The report detailed mixed findings. While residents supported the adoption of the program, there was no evidence the cameras directly impacted community member’s satisfied with FCPD.

The program, which would be phased out over three years, will cost $4.3 million next year — a sum that will be covered from the county’s reserve funds. In 2021, the program is expected to cost $5.5 million and roughly $1.1 million in 2022.

If approved, more than 1,200 camera will be deployed to all district stations. Overall, 34 new full-time employees will be hired, including five staff members for FCPD, 23 staff members for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and six positions with the Department of Information Technology.

Police officers at the Reston District Station — which was included in last year’s pilot program — would be the first to receive the devices if the program is approved.

School Resource Officers are also expected to receive body-worn cameras. However, the committee cautioned that decisions to deploy the devices will be made in concert with the Fairfax County School Board and the Board of Supervisors.

The county contracted American University researchers to study the effects of the pilot program after FCPD Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. recommended implementing the program in June 2015. A six-month pilot began in March last year in the Mason, Mount Vernon and Reston district stations.

At a committee meeting in June, board supervisors largely expressed support for the program.

Photo via FCPD

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JUST IN: Herndon Man Arrested for Alleged Attempted Murder of Cop

Virginia State Police arrested a Herndon man for allegedly trying to murder a police officer following a Clarke County shooting.

Police charged 33-year-old Timothy B. Neal with attempted capital murder of a police officer, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and shooting into an occupied vehicle, according to Virginia State Police.

Shortly before 9 a.m. on Monday (Aug. 5), a Clarke County sheriff’s deputy responded to a medical emergency call at a farmer’s market in the 4800 block of Harry Byrd Hwy (Route 7), Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia State Police, said.

“When the Deputy and an ambulance arrived on scene, the male subject who reported being in distress had left the market on foot,” Geller said.

More from the Virginia State Police:

The Deputy began a search of the area for the male — later identified as Neal — and located him walking in the median of Route 7. Neal was compliant with the Deputy’s request for an ID. The Deputy had returned to his patrol car and was seated inside checking the man’s information when Neal pulled a concealed weapon from his waistband and fired at and struck the Deputy’s vehicle.

The Deputy immediately took cover and returned fire. Neal was struck and was transported to the Winchester Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The Deputy was not injured in the incident.

At the request of the Clarke County Sheriff, the Police Shooting Investigation Team, out of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office, is investigating the officer-involved shooting. The incident remains under investigation at this time.

Neal is being held without bond at the Northwest Regional Adult Detention Center.

File photo

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Police Cruiser Hits Pedestrian in Reston

A police cruiser hit a pedestrian early Sunday in Reston.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, a officer was driving through the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road around 2 a.m. when the cruiser hit the 42-year-old woman as she was crossing.

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries and was released from the hospital.

Police believe alcohol may have been a factor for the woman.

Speed and alcohol were not considered factors for the officer, police said.

Anyone with information about the crash should call FCPD’s crash reconstruction unit at 703-280-0543.

Photo via FCPD

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Crime Roundup: Police Say Reston Teen Assaults Police

A 19-year-old Reston resident was arrested on July 6 at around 8:30 p.m. for assaulting police.

Local police found Mario Rodriguez unconscious near a bus stop. When medical staff tried to help him, Rodriguez assaulted an officer during the arrest.

He was charged with two counts of assault on law enforcement, possession of marijuana and drunk in public.

Rodriguez is being held without bond.

FCPD’s Reston District Station also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

2100 block of Astoria Circle cash from residence

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, cell phone from location

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, package from residence

1800 block of Fountain Drive, backpack from business

2000 block of Durand Drive, laptop computer from vehicle

12900 block of Highland Crossing Drive, tip jar from business

1400 block of Lake Fairfax Drive, cash and property from business

11900 block of Market Street, wallet from location

1400 block of West Ox Road, cell phone from location

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None

In other news, three golf carts were taken from Hidden Creek Country Club on July 1 just a few minutes after midnight. The carts were found on a nearby street a short while later.

In a separate incident, police also charged Brian Baker, 47, for assault and disorderly conduct on July 2. Police believe Baker threatened staff at Reston Hospital Center.

On July 6, a burglary was reported at Frying Pan Farm Park. Police responded to an alarm and found that the building had been broken into. Nothing was taken.

Photo via FCPD

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Local Pilot Body Camera Program for Police Yields Mixed Results

The results of an analysis on the county’s pilot body-worn camera program are officially in. Researchers at American University found that the six-month pilot project could have limited results in enhancing policy-community relations increasing police legitimacy and accountability.

In a 119-page report that uses survey data from residents and police officers, researchers found that people had “modest expectations” about the necessity and benefit of body-worn cameras.

Less than half of survey respondents and interviewees noted that the devices would reduce complaints against officers, improve legitimacy or increase police accountability. Police officers also noted that it was unlikely that the devices would change their behavior or how community members responded to the police department.

“If the decision is not to deploy them, the high regard for the department will lead nearly everyone to conclude that it was the right decision for all,” the report states.

Researchers did not find any statistically significant changes in officer behavior and performance once the devices were deployed. They also found that respondents were unconvinced that the cameras would lessen the use of force by police.

The pilot program went into effect in March last year after Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler and a police commission suggested the idea. Last year, 191 cameras were deployed at the Mason, Mount Vernon and Reston District Station, yielding more than 12,000 hours of video.

The police department found that judges, clerks of the courts and staff from the office of the public defendant generally supported the program.

If the program is implemented, the county would deploy 1,210 body-worn cameras to all operational police officers over five years. The Reston, Mason and Mt. Vernon district stations would be the first to get the cameras.

The program could cost nearly $30 million over a five-year contract period. The county would have to hire staff to manage the technical aspects of the equipment, improve station infrastructure and ensure public records laws were being followed.

Additionally, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney would need nearly $3.1 million for 23 positions to help review the footage, roughly $773,000 to help the court system use the videos generated by the cameras in the court-rooms, and $150,000 to boost storage capacity to capture video evidence.

The county still has to mull several issues:

  • The impact of the devices on prosecutors, public defenders and the court system is entirely unclear
  • The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office cannot accommodate planned growth
  • Whether or not cameras should be given to School Resources Officers
  • Training requirements for the defense bar
  • The possibility that future contract costs could increase

The report will be presented to the county’s Public Safety Committee today (July 9).

Photo via FCPD

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Missing Reston Man Found — Steven Stoller, 59, went missing on Monday when he left Bethesda, Maryland. He was located safe and unharmed on Tuesday, according to police. [Montgomery County Police Department]

Comscore Expands into West and Southern Africa — The Reston-based company is expanding its box office measurement services to nine African countries, including Nigeria and South Africa. Company executives say the move can capture the effectiveness of the African film market — one of the “most remarkable cultural developments in recent decades.” [Comscore]

Planning Commission Vote on Prince Towne and Reston Heights Development Proposal Tonight — The panel is expected to vote on scaling back already approved plans for Reston Heights, a mixed-use development already in progress on Sunrise Valley Drive. A vote is also expected on plans for single-family homes on the north side of West Ox Road. [Fairfax County Planning Commission]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Crime Roundup: Herndon Man Arrested After Car Rental Expires

City of Fairfax police arrested a Herndon man after police received reports that his car rental had not been returned on time.

Police arrested the 32-year-old Herndon resident on the afternoon of March 7, the police report says.

He is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center on a secured bond of $1,000.

The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, cash from location

12100 block of Eddyspark Drive, wallet from vehicle

12000 block of Heather Down Drive, jewelry from residence

1400 block of North Point Village Center, merchandise from business

1800 block of Old Reston Avenue, laptop computers from residence

11800 block of Spectrum Center, merchandise from business

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

1300 block of Pavilion Club Way, 2009 Nissan Murano

1100 block of Vantage Hill Road, 2008 Ford Expeditio

File photo 

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Police Storage, Traffic Signal Plans Added to Proposed Herndon Projects

The queue of proposed projects for the Town of Herndon has two new items — plans for more police storage and a traffic signal along Elden Street.

Senior Planner Dana Heiberg presented the draft Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission last night (Feb. 25).

The draft CIP spans a six-year period from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2025.

One new addition would give police officers more space to store police bicycles, bulky equipment and other police property. The CIP budgets the creation of the exterior garage at $700,000 from FY 2020 funding.

That isn’t the only police project. Another one would update police radio equipment as Fairfax County moves toward encryption technology.

Meanwhile, the second new project — a traffic signal at Elden Street by the Herndon Centre — originated from a developer proffer.

Heiberg also gave an overview of the 50 projects for this year — many of which he said are on-going ones from the FY 2019-FY 2024 CIP.

For this year, planning and permitting software will is set for implementation. The information technology project is supported by the town’s reserves.

Renovating the Bready Park tennis courts, which will include converting the lighting to LEDs, is a part of the 10 planned park projects.

Nine projects sponsored by community development are set to tackle street improvements; pedestrian and bike trail upgrades, including trails leading to Herndon’s metro station; and wayfinding signs and historic markers.

Public works-sponsored projects include:

  • nine street or intersection improvements
  • a storm drainage project
  • major maintenance for buildings
  • a road repaving program
  • utility relocation downtown

The Herndon Centennial Clubhouse is also set for an expansion to take place over three phases. Once construction funding is decided upon in FY 2024, the renovation and expansion of the existing structure, which was built in the 1980s, will begin.

The General Fund projects for the six years in the draft CIP total $58.1 million, with about $6 million for FY 2020 General Fund projects. Grant funding will support most of the projects — acounting for 46 percent — while the General Fund will support a little over 20 percent, Heiberg said.

The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend that the draft CIP move forward to the Town’s manager.

Photo via Google Maps

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Crime Roundup: Drunk Reston Man Arrested for Larceny, Assaulting Two Police Officers

City of Fairfax police arrested a Reston man after he assaulted two police officers.

On Thursday, Jan. 3,  police officers found a male subject knocking on doors and checking doorknobs around 1:21 a.m. in the 9400 block of Fairfax Blvd. A police investigation determined that a possible larceny had occurred and that the subject was intoxicated, according to the report.

Elias Bouazer, a 20-year-old from Reston, allegedly assaulted two officers as they were in the process of arresting him, the report says.

Bouazer was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he was charged with two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, larceny and being drunk in public. He was held without bond.

Last Friday (Jan. 11), police in the City of Fairfax arrested another Restonian — this time for drunk driving.

At around 1:44 a.m. police stopped a vehicle that was driving erratically in the area of Revel Run and Fairfax Blvd and arrested and charged Mohiyadin Abukar Abdi of Reston for driving under the influence, according to the report. Abdi was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, laptop computer from residence 

10200 block of Colvin Run Road, wallet from residence

Emeral Heights Court/Green Range Drive, cell phone from location

11600 block of Plaza America Drive, bag from location

8700 block of Potomac Hills Street, purse from vehicle

1600 block of Reston Parkway, merchandise from business

2200 block of Southgate Square, shovel from residence

2200 block of Stone Wheel Drive, clothing from location

11800 block of Sunrise Valley Drive, merchandise from business

11400 block of Waterview Cluster, wallet from location

1800 block of Wiehle Ave, merchandise from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None reported

City of Falls Church police arrested a Herndon man last week.

Last Tuesday (Jan. 8) around 10:45 a.m., police responded to a complaint about suspicious activity at the 7-Eleven at 201 S. Washington Street. They arrested and charged 26-year-old Jason Wesley of Herndon with possession of a controlled substance, obstruction of justice and public intoxication, according to the report.

File photo

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South Lakes HS Student Struck, Killed in Hit and Run

Fairfax County Police are still looking for the driver who killed a Reston teen who was crossing the street Saturday evening.

The victim was identified by police Sunday as 16-year-old Marvin Daniel Cruz Serrano, who friends are remembering as “kind and selfless.” The South Lakes High School student was struck by a vehicle while returning home from work at Reston’s Cafesano, NBC 4 reported.

“At about 5:40, officers responded to the report of a pedestrian hit-and-run crash on South Lakes Drive and Castle Rock Square in Reston,” police said in a press release. “The teen was attempting to cross South Lakes Drive… when he was hit by a vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“There is a crosswalk at the intersection and detectives are still conducting their investigation to determine if the teen was using the crosswalk,” police added. Police are now seeking information that can lead them to the driver, who fled the scene.

More from FCPD:

Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit are asking anyone with information on the fatal hit-and-run crash over the weekend to come forward. 16-year-old Marvin Daniel Cruz Serrano of Reston was hit while crossing the street Saturday night, and the driver left the scene. The car involved was likely a sedan based on witness accounts, but we don’t know the model or color. The vehicle would have heavy front-end damage but still be drivable.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Crash Reconstruction Unit witness phone line: 703-280-0543. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by visiting http://www. fairfaxcrimesolvers.org, or calling 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). They can also be sent in via text by texting “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES (274637). Text STOP to 274637 to cancel, or HELP to 274637 for help. Message and data rates may apply. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1000 if their information leads to an arrest.

We are able to share Serrano’s identity publicly, despite him being a juvenile crime victim, because his family provided our detectives their written consent.

Map via Google Maps

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Crime Roundup: Reston Man Caught Driving Under the Influence

Loudoun County police arrested and charged a Reston man with driving under the influence last Wednesday night near Paeonian Springs.

A sheriff’s deputy spotted the driver, Karl F. Wolf, a 75-year-old Reston resident, going over the posted speed limit at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 9 at 10:23 p.m. on Dec. 19, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Wolf has been released from the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on an unsecured bond.

The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

11900 block of Market Street, merchandise from business

11900 block of Market Street, cell phone from location

13200 block of Parcher Avenue, cell phone from school 

11100 block of South Lakes Drive, merchandise from business

11800 block of Sunrise Valley Drive, cash from business

21800 block of Town Center Plaza, merchandise from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None reported

Fairfax County police discovered that the AT&T store at 1810 Library Street was broken into after they responded to an alarm going off at the store at 1:45 a.m. last Wednesday (Dec. 19). Police determined that someone stole electronics, according to the report.

Last Thursday (Dec. 20) Herndon police arrested 34-year-old Carlos S. Portillo of Herndon on four counts of sexual assault against a victim who knew him, according to the Herndon Police Department.

The assaults happened at the 1000 block of Alabama Drive, according to the report.

Portillo is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond, according to the report.

File photo

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Fairfax Animal Control Encourages You to Scare Away Overly Curious Wildlife

(Updated 12:30 p.m.) Don’t pet or feed wild animals. In fact, local animal control encourages you to haze them if they get too close to the house or if you feel threatened.

As winter sets in, homes around Fairfax County could look particularly appealing to animals looking for a refuge for the cold weather or a bite to eat. Sergeant Alena Swartz, Animal Control Officer for Fairfax County, urges local citizens to resist the urge to let the wildlife in.

“If you have anything that might be seen as a good nesting area, like under sheds or low-rise porches, a lot of animals can use that as a den,” said Swartz. “You don’t want them denning in your yard, you want them in the woods.”

If an animal is simply moving across the property, Swartz says it’s fine to let them pass, but sometimes animals can come too close to the proximity of the house and conflict can occur when the animals become too comfortable around humans.

Swartz said to make sure to check under those areas first before they are closed in or any animals trapped inside could starve. Swartz recommended placing loose dirt below holes being closed up to be able to check later and see if an animal has attempted to scratch or dig out from the inside. If there are signs of activity, call pest control.

Overall, Swartz said the seasonal change doesn’t the types of animals seen around the area, though squirrel infestations are more common in the spring and summer. But Swartz said Fairfax residents are still likely to see foxes, raccoons, or the odd coyote or two throughout the winter months.

If residents spot a fox or coyote in their yard, Swartz said residents should do everything they can to scare the animal away, both for the safety of residents and for the animal.

“Get a can… shake things around,” Swartz said. “Try to scare them away. Foxes will sometimes just become acclimated to that, so you really have to make sure you scare them away.”

If the animal persists, Swartz says residents should throw rocks near the animals, though not directly at them.

Swartz said animals becoming too acclimated to humans can lead to wild animals changing their behavior in ways that may hinder their survival.

“Don’t want them thinking okay be to be around people,” said Swartz. “Don’t leave pet food outside, what [your pets] don’t eat take up and bring in, or [wild animals] see that as a food source. They’ll think ‘why try to find my own food when I can come here?’ We need them to maintain a fear of us or they stop doing what they normally do.”

Swartz said that the amount of wildlife around Fairfax hasn’t shown a substantial change, but as the communities grow and expand they are taking away resources from that wildlife and sightings become more common as humans encroach on their habitat.

For most animal sightings, Swartz said local residents should contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) at 1-855-571-9003. The DGIF deals largely with animals that are considered nuisances, like a groundhog repeatedly pilfering a local garden. But for animals that appear sick or injured, Swartz says to contact animal protection police at 703-691-2131.

Photo courtesy Brandy Schantz

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Here’s What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation, According to Fairfax Police

“Nothing in your hands. Obey commands.”

The Fairfax Police Department has released a short video via Facebook Live giving instructions on what to do if you find yourself in an active shooter situation.

Lt. Brian Ruck, a police officer from the Franconia District, said most shootings are over in around 10 minutes, ending either in “self termination” or law enforcement intervention. Ruck said most shootings are a single shooter, though law enforcement often gets reports of a second shooter in the chaos as a shooting starts.

Ruck encouraged people to follow the “Run, Hide, Fight” policy recommended by the Fairfax County Police Department.

“It’s a decision based model,” said Ruck. “Every situation is different, dynamic and complex. Unfortunately [we] can’t give viewers an exact answer to what they should do.”

If possible, Ruck says anyone in an active shooter situation should do their best to flee the area.

“Running away from the bad situation is ideal,” Ruck said. “But they may have to hide if they can’t. Barricade the door. The last phase is fight. If you have to fight for your life, that’s what you need to do.”

Even once the police arrive, that isn’t always a guarantee of safety. In November, security guard Jemel Roberson was killed in Chicago by police who mistook him for the shooter. Ruck said it’s important to when police show up to empty your hands, show them to police officers and obey commands.

“Get on the ground and have nothing in your hands,” said Ruck. “Expect them to shout at you and have weapons drawn. People see that and it’s traumatic, but officers are going in with intention of stopping a threat… Nothing in your hands. Obey commands.”

If you’re hiding, Ruck says to remain in hiding until the police come and find you.

In the meantime, Ruck encouraged people to be aware of escape routes, hiding spaces, and potential weapons around them.

“Play the ‘what if’ game,” said Ruck. “If I had to fight for my life right now, what around me could I use to defend myself? How could I get out of here? What’s an alternate exit? Not just at work, do it at home with your kids.”

Ruck also encouraged anyone who knows of someone who shows signs of mental distress and might become violent to contact the police. Ruck said a common misconception is that police’s only response is to arrest the person in question. Ruck said police could also help respond to a mental crisis and get the person to care they need.

“We’re told frequently afterwards that people saw the signs, that there was someone exhibiting certain symptoms,” said Ruck. “These people were projecting this and no one called… if you see something, say something.”

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Full Trial on Nabra Hassanen Murder Goes to Court Early Next Year

Darwin Martinez Torres, 23, accused of raping and murdering Nabra Hassanen, 17, of Reston, will be going to trial in January.

According to the Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, motions for the case are scheduled for Nov. 29 and the date for the full trial in January has not been established yet.

Torres’ seven-count indictment includes charges of rape and capital murder.

Prosecutors in the case plan to introduce evidence that Torres was a member of MS-13, though the police are not saying that the crime was gang-related, according to the Washington Post.

Hassanen was attacked when she was returning from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling after a pre-dawn meal in June 2017. Fairfax County police say Hassanen was attacked with a baseball bat before she was abducted, sexually assaulted, and killed. Her body was found in a pond near Torres’ apartment and police believe the crime was not motivated by Hassanen’s religion, but was a road rage incident.

The Washington Post also reports that Torres’ defense team is alleging that Torres is intellectually disabled as a result of toxins in a gold mine near where he grew up in El Salvador. If Torres is found to have significant mental issues, he cannot receive the death penalty.

Photo via FCPD

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