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Former cop gets 5-10 years for shooting romantic rival
A Baltimore City police officer who repeatedly shot the husband of his mistress outside the officer's former York Township home did so because he had just seconds to determine whether he was in danger, according to his defense attorney.
John Elliot Torres, 35, who now lives in Wrightsville, "made a mistake," first assistant public defender Clasina Houtman told the judge at Torres' sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon.
But his victim, 36-year-old David Hohman Sr., scoffed at the explanation, saying that "without a doubt" Torres shot him because Hohman was about to tell Torres' wife about the affair between Torres and Hohman's wife.
Hohman was unimpressed by the letters and testimony of people who praised Torres as a loving husband and father, as a church-going Christian and as a twice-decorated 12-year officer.
"He pretty much lived a double life," said Hohman, who was struck by a total of five of the 14 bullets Torres fired at him while the unarmed Hohman sat in his vehicle outside Torres' home on April 29, 2014.
He's undergone a number of surgeries and has another one scheduled for January to remove a bullet that initially went in his chest but has moved to his stomach area.
Victim satisfied: Still, Hohman said he's satisfied with the sentence handed down by presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook — five to 10 years in state prison.
Cook also ordered Torres to pay about $16,800 in restitution to Geico Insurance, nearly $5,000 to the state's victim-assistance program and $200 to Hohman.
A jury on Sept. 23 found Torres guilty of aggravated assault but acquitted him of attempted first-degree murder.
Houtman admitted that Torres has made mistakes and that his "relationship with Ashley Hohman was one of those mistakes."
"This is not a man who is trigger-happy or shoots without reason," Houtman told the judge, and he didn't shoot Hohman to keep the man from revealing the affair to Charlene Torres. "He acted the way he did only because he felt threatened at the time."
Bail requested: She requested a sentence of 3½ to seven years and asked that Torres be allowed to remain free on bail as he appeals the trial verdict.
But senior deputy prosecutor R.J. Fisher said Torres made 14 bad decisions the day of the shooting — one for each time he fired at Hohman from 2 to 3 feet away.
Fisher asked for a sentence of seven to 14 years for Torres. The prosecutor also asked that Torres be remanded to prison immediately after sentencing, a request Cook granted.
"It is a gross understatement to say that the results of the defendant's actions could have been avoided," the judge said.
And not only will Hohman continue to suffer the physical consequences of being repeatedly shot, he also must contend with "the emotional toll it will take on him," Cook said.
The background: Torres was one of a number of Baltimore City officers who worked a side job as security at a grocery store in the Baltimore area where David and Ashley Hohman worked, and still work. 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 decided to drive to the Torres home and tell Torres' wife what was going on.
Hohman testified at trial that he texted Torres, "Let's see how Charlene feels about this ... time to end this. ... The game is over, you might as well answer the door. I have all day."
Torres texted in reply,"I don't take kindly to any threats. That being said, stay in your lane and leave me alone."
'Consequences': But Hohman persisted: "There's consequences to f—ing up someone's marriage and life and man up to them."
Hohman testified that as he parked outside the Torres' apartment complex, he saw Torres walk out of 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 was suspended without pay after charges were filed, and he subsequently resigned, Baltimore City Police have said.
Previous shooting: Torres shot and killed off-duty Baltimore City Police Officer Norman Stamp, 65, while responding to an incident at a strip club in Baltimore eight years ago, according to The Baltimore Sun.
As police officers arrived at the club in April 2008, Stamp, who was hanging out with members of his motorcycle club, rushed out with brass knuckles. Torres struck him with a Taser and, after Stamp reached for his service weapon, fired two shots, the report states.
A civil jury in 2010 dismissed a lawsuit filed by Stamp's widow, saying Torres acted appropriately.
He was hired as a Baltimore City officer in 2002, a department spokesman has said.
York-based attorney Ed Paskey confirmed he is representing Hohman, who intends to sue Torres. That lawsuit has not yet been filed, although notice of the lawsuit has been filed, Paskey said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.