Ex-Baltimore cop guilty of aggravated assault

Christopher Dornblaser
  • John Torres, of Wrightsville, was convicted of aggravated assault
  • Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29

A jury on Friday convicted a former Baltimore cop of aggravated assault but acquitted him of attempted first-degree murder for shooting a man in April 2014.

John Elliot Torres, 35, who now lives in Wrightsville, was found guilty of aggravated assault for shooting David Hohman Sr. When the jury announced its decision, gasps could be heard from those in the courtroom.

Police said Torres shot Hohman more than two years ago because of a love triangle between Torres and Hohman's wife, Ashley Powell.

Ex-cop on trial for apparent love-triangle shooting

Torres was off duty when he shot Hohman, of Baltimore, about 12:25 p.m. April 29, 2014, outside Torres' York Township home, York Area Regional Police have said.

Torres maintained he shot at Hohman 14 times in self-defense. Hohman was shot while sitting in his car and suffered life-threatening injuries.

Reaction: After the sentencing, Hohman, who lives in Baltimore with his wife, said he was happy with the decision but disappointed Torres was not found guilty of attempted first-degree murder.

"It's a relief to finally see somebody be held accountable for their actions," he said.

Hohman said he and his wife remained together during the whole ordeal, and their relationship continues to grow, adding that they are stronger than they have ever been.

"We're one of those relationships that people envy," he added.

Hohman said Torres' actions still have effects on him.

"I have more surgeries left to come," he said.

Senior deputy prosecutor R.J. Fisher commended the jury after the verdict came in, saying he believed the group reached an informed verdict. Hohman commended the prosecution during the trial.

"I think they did a good job sticking with the truth," he said.

Background: On Tuesday, Powell testified that she and Hohman had marital difficulties, and that Torres and his wife were also having problems. She said she and Torres talked about their problems together and admitted the two of them went to Washington, D.C., together and stayed at a hotel there.

She said there was "nothing sexual at all" about the hotel stay but did acknowledge they kissed several times and that she hid the trip from her husband, who later learned of it.

Hohman and Powell worked, and still work, at a grocery store in the Baltimore area where Torres and other off-duty Baltimore City cops had side jobs as security officers. The couple knew Torres for about 10 years, they have said.

Hohman became increasingly frustrated with his marriage falling apart, believed it was because Torres was sleeping with his wife and, on April 29, 2014, decided to do something about it, according to testimony:

He told Powell he was driving to Torres' then-home, an apartment on Brentwood Drive in York Township, to tell Torres' wife what was going on.

Testimony revealed that Powell had her close friend — who had previously helped Powell and Torres communicate behind Hohman's back — warn Torres by phone. And as Hohman drove north, he and his wife texted back and forth.

Later, after he arrived at Brentwood Drive, he and Torres had a text exchange. Fisher showed jurors both of those text exchanges Tuesday.

Powell texted her husband, "I already told you I'm done with him, what don't you understand?" She kept insisting her husband was "crazy" for wanting to tell Torres' wife about his suspicions.

Hohman texted Powell: "All I wanted was to be happy in love and raise our family together, Ashley. I'm not crazy for wanting that."

Hohman texted his wife that Torres wouldn't answer his phone and wouldn't answer his apartment door. That led Hohman to text: "If a man won't fight for his wife, then that man should (have) never been married," and, "As you see, he is fighting to keep his marriage ... afraid to face the truth, all because he doesn't want to lose his wife and the life he has."

Powell warned her husband that Torres might shoot him, and she told jurors Tuesday that Torres had previously stated he would shoot Hohman if Hohman stepped foot on his property.

Hohman told jurors he was eventually able to reach Torres, and the two shared text messages just before the shooting. He said he made it clear to Torres that he intended to tell the then-officer's wife that Torres was cheating on her but that Torres wouldn't open his door.

After the two had texted each other, Hohman went to a fast-food restaurant and decided to return to Torres' home after he left for work. While at lunch, Hohman wrote a letter to the woman, which read in part: "He has been cheating on you with my wife and has cheated on you with other (grocery store employees)."

Shots: Hohman testified that he then returned to Torres' apartment complex, and while he was parking, saw Torres walk out the building.

The two men locked eyes, he said. The victim said he had his left hand on the steering wheel and gave Torres a half-wave with his right hand.

"That's when he drew his weapon and started firing," Hohman said.

Torres fired into the car 14 times, police have said, and witnesses testified he was just a few feet from Hohman's car at the time.

Hohman said he realized, "He's going to kill me" and leaned away from the direction of the bullets. He said he held one hand over his face and the other over his heart, trying to protect his vital organs.

Hohman told jurors he was shot multiple times in the left arm, a "couple times" in the ribs and was also shot in the stomach, chest and both legs.

Hohman was unarmed, police have said, and he confirmed that on the witness stand.

Torres was suspended without pay after charges were filed and subsequently resigned, Baltimore City Police have said.

Torres' attorney, Clasina Hautman, declined to be interviewed following the verdict Friday afternoon.

Sentencing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.Nov. 29.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.