MMA fighter kills one home invader, injures another, sends two fleeing

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, four men broke into the mobile home of Joseph Torrez on King James Road, north of Las Cruces, NM. It left one man dead, one man injured, and landed two others in jail.

Torrez has been training for nearly a decade at Gracie Barra Las Cruces, and fights professionally.

Deputies said it all started with an argument between Torrez and four other men. One of the men, Leonard Calvillo, 22, called Torrez on the phone. The arrest affidavit said Calvillo threatened to go to Torrez’s home. The affidavit quoted Calvillo when talking to Torrez saying, “I will kill you and your family.”

Deputies said Calvillo along with Sal Garces, 25, his brother Raymond, 19, and Nathan Avalos, 20, roke into the home. They said Torrez’s fiancée tried to hold the four men back, but was unable to. The arrest affidavit reveals the men tossed furniture and then physically attacked Torrez.

According to James Staley of the Las Cruces Sun-News, two of the attackers had weapons – one of the men had a broken souvenir baseball bat, while the other grabbed a knife from the kitchen.

Deputies said Torrez was able to fight off all four men, protecting himself and his family. Sal Garces died from stab wounds. Avalos was taken to the hospital. Calvillo and Raymond Garces were arrested and face multiple charges including aggravated battery and aggravated burglary.

Torrez’s lawyer, C.J. McElhinney said that the four men who invaded the Torrez home were associated with the East Side Locos gang and have prior convictions for violent crimes. In a touch that could would have fit well in Justified, one of the home invaders was wearing an electronic ankle bracelets.

“When he decided to fight, he gave it his all,” McElhinney said. “He was outnumbered. These guys were armed, they were dangerous. His MMA training, his mental toughness contributed. I think that definitely was an edge.”

Torrez only endured minor injuries, according to McElhinney. The fighter and his and his family have left Las Cruces.

McElhinney granted an exclusive interview to Oliver Chan writing for CagePotato, and provided further details.

Despite reports of Mr. Torrez having a relationship with the intruders, Mr. McElhinney denied that they’d previously known each other.

The attack may have occurred as a result of an incident involving the 17-year-old sister of Torrez’s fiance at a New Year’s Eve Party. Mr. Elhinney stated that Torrez was at his home by 10 p.m. that evening with his son and fiance. His fiance’s sister, who may have had a “passing friendship” with one of the intruders, was at the party where according to Mr. McElhinney, an incident may have occurred where the intruders attempted to intoxicate and possibly sexually assault the woman, who later spent that evening with Torrez and her sister in lieu of her own home as a safety precaution.

While Torrez has had some on-and-off legal issues and run-ins with the police in the past, which include custody issues and a DUI, Mr. McElhinney stated that Torrez is “not a criminal” and has “never done time.”

New Mexico has a similar legal statute to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. In New Mexico, you are not legally obligated to retreat, but also “not be trigger happy.”

Whether or not Torrez will be tried for his actions that evening will fall on the New Mexico prosecution who will determine whether or not the right amount of force was used. 

McElhinney says that Torrez may still face charges related to the attack.

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Torrez is reportedly no longer cooperating with authorities.