Lehigh Valley

Lehigh County judge sends 2011 attempted homicide case to trial

Allentown man accused of shooting victim in arm

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A Lehigh County judge refused to dismiss attempted homicide charges against an Allentown man, ruling he escalated what started as an argument when he allegedly retrieved a handgun.

Allentown police charged Francisco J. Torruellas with attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of a crime and two counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the May 2011 shooting.

District Judge Rod Beck on Friday held all the charges over for county court following a preliminary hearing in Lehigh County Central Court.

Allentown police said the incident happened outside Torruellas’ home in the 100 block of Linden Street. The first victim was shot in the arm and required emergency medical care, and police allege he shot at but missed a second victim.

The victim’s mother testified Friday that she had gone to the house with her four children and brother on Mother’s Day to confront Torruellas about allegedly hitting her nephew on the head.

The boy’s father and Torruellas yelled at each other and “talked smack,” the victim’s mother testified. But the confrontation did not turn physical, she said.

Under questioning by defense attorney Earl Supplee, she testified that the family had shown up at the house unannounced and that she had walked into the house without knocking to speak with another nephew before preparing to leave. The victim’s mother clarified that she often let herself into the home when visiting.

Torruellas slammed the front door and disappeared into the house, reappearing later from inside a car that pulled up outside the house, according to testimony. The victim’s mother told the court that he emerged from the car with a gun in his hand and began firing.

She said her older son, who had been arguing with Torruellas, was circling her vehicle trying to avoid gunfire. Her then 21-year-old son charged Torruellas and was shot in the arm trying to unarm him, he said.

She was emphatic and unwavering when she repeatedly identified Torruellas as the shooter. She also described a chaotic scene as she tried to get her younger children out of harm's way and her injured son to the hospital.

The defense argued there simply wasn’t enough evidence to support attempted homicide or even aggravated assault charges. Supplee said you’re not allowed in someone’s house, if you’re not invited.

“They essentially broke into his house to confront him,” he argued.

Supplee said a prima facia case could be made for reckless endangerment, but not aggravated assault or attempted homicide, considering the group lingered outside the house before finally getting ready to leave.

“When he shuts the door, their obligation is to leave,” he said.

Prosecutors countered that the family was preparing to leave, when Torruellas pulled up in a car brandishing a handgun. The judge agreed.

“Everything was fine until somebody brought a gun to a screaming match,” Beck said.

Torruellas’ next court date is a formal arraignment scheduled for July 31.


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