Memorial services held Thursday for slain suspect in Dona Ana home invasion

Memorial services held Thursday for slain suspect in Dona Ana home invasion
Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 8:48pm

Funeral services for Sal "Chico" Garces were held Thursday afternoon for the 25-year-old man allegedly involved in the New Year's home invasion of MMA fighter Joe Torrez in Dona Ana.

Investigators said Garces died on the scene after Torrez fought back against the alleged group of four intruders.

"My son Raymond came home but Sal never got here," said Sal's mother Cindy Garces.

The other men involved were Sal's younger brother Raymond Garces, 19, along with Leonard Calvillo, 22, who were both arrested soon after the incident.

Nathan Avalos, 19, was arrested Monday afternoon.

All are facing multiple felony charges that include aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and criminal damage to property after allegedly breaking a window and kicking the door in forcing their way into Torrez's home.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's deputies also arrested Rachel Carrillo, 19, and Cylver Pearl Betancourt, 18, and charged them with aggravated burglary with intent to commit battery and one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

According to court records, Carrillo drove the group of men and Betancourt to Torrez's home on the 600 block of King James Avenue.

Sal Garces died on the scene after suffering multiple stab wounds and head injuries.

Cindy Garces showed photos of various wounds throughout her son's body Thursday afternoon.

She said her son was brutally stabbed on his neck and ear and on his side and his ribs were broken.

The photos showed stitches where Garces suffered a cut on his cheek from the corner of his mouth almost to his ear and other injuries.

"They slit his throat from one side to the other and they stabbed him a few times under his neck," Garces said in tears.

The Office of the Medical Investigator could not comment on the wounds pending the completion of their final autopsy report.

The sheriff's office could only say Garces suffered multiple stab wounds and head injuries citing the ongoing investigation.
Investigators have said the fight at Torrez's home began with a previous argument within the Las Cruces city limits.

Garces said she was present when Rachel Carrillo received a phone call allegedly from Torrez.

"He was talking smack to the boys and he told the boys to go over there and meet him and his boys," Garces said.

Attorney for Joe Torrez, C.J. McElhinney said it's possible his client's fiancé used Torrez's phone to make a call, but Torrez calling doesn't add up.

McElhinney said he knew of at least one of the alleged intruders tangentially but did not have any sort of relationship with them.

"She (Torrez's fiancé) used her phone originally but that phone went dead and that's the reason she used my client's phone," McElhinney said.

McElhinney added from there a call was made back from one of the four alleged intruders and that's when they threatened Torrez.

Court records show Leonard Calvillo made comments to Torrez by phone that said, "I'm big Eastside. I'll kill you and your family. I will go to your house."

The sheriff's department said they are looking into phone records but cannot comment further.

Cindy Garces also believes there were more people at Torrez's home at the time when her son was killed.

The sheriff's department said when deputies arrived on the scene it did not appear as though there were any signs of a party.

McElhinney said there was a small gathering that included Torrez, his two-year-old son, fiancé, a 17-year-old girl and two other women who are friends of Torrez's fiancé.

Garces said the injuries to her son don't appear consistent with somebody who was attempting to defend themselves from alleged intruders and she said there were multiple weapons used.

The sheriff's department said they recovered a broken souvenir baseball bat that was described as a "shank", glass bottles and a knife.

Garces said she believes Torrez should be charged after her son's body was found two homes down for where the alleged fight took place but McElhinney said it was about 60 yards.

"He lost all right to self defense due to my son being found several homes down," Garces said. "That's not his property."

McElhinney maintains his client did what was necessary to protect himself and his family.

"I haven't seen any evidence to suggest my client did anything else other than defend himself," he said.

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