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Jury to be brought in from another Pa. county for trial of ex-fugitive in 2005 murder of wife

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READING, Pennsylvania — A jury will be bought in from another county for the eastern Pennsylvania trial of a man accused of fatally shooting his estranged wife as she left work almost a decade ago.

A Berks County judge on Wednesday granted a defense request for an outside jury for the trial of Miguel Torres, 43, The Reading Eagle reported.

Judge John Boccabella cited extensive publicity about the slaying and Torres, who was on the run for more than seven years before his March 2013 arrest in Italy, and said his ruling was made with "an abundance of caution."

"It is this court's opinion that even the attempt to empanel a jury in this county would be fruitless," he said. "It further concludes that an abortive attempt to do so would result in more publicity and expense than the safer and more productive decision to change venire," a reference to the full panel from which a jury is chosen.

Authorities allege that Torres ambushed Barbara West-Torres, 32, in a Reading parking lot in September 2005 as she left her job as a bank teller. Officials said she had obtained a protection order against him.

Defense attorney Robert Kirwan II said there has been "extensive, inflammatory, sensational and highly inculpatory publicity about this case," citing local and regional news reports and a segment from "America's Most Wanted." He also noted that jurors chosen for the trial would walk past the murder scene daily.

Under conditions of Torres' extradition, prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty.


Information from: Reading Eagle, http://www.readingeagle.com/

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