Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax

Colorado's maximum security federal prison, often referred to as Supermax and the Alcatraz of the Rockies because it is home to some of the nation's most serious offenders, lost an inmate to violence Thursday. 64 year old Manuel Torrez was "viciously beaten" by fellow inmates.

Prison staff and medical personnel tried for about 20 minutes to resuscitate Torrez, but he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Fremont County Coroner Dorothy Twellman says Torrez endured a "vicious" beating, suffering severe injuries to his face, neck and chest. It's the first alleged killing of a prisoner at the hands of other inmates in Supermax history.

Torrez was serving a 160 month sentence for a racketeering conviction from a 1999 California case. The case was one of the second wave of La Eme ("Mexican Mafia") gang indictments that charged 27 defendants with a variety of drug offenses and four murders, three attempted murders, 13 conspiracies to commit murder, four conspiracies to assault and conspiracies to distribute drugs. (Copley News Service February 02, 1999.) One of those murdered was a man named Victor Murillo.

Murillo was an interesting character because he had been in the first wave of La Eme Indictments, and after a trial in 1997, was the only one of 13 defendants to be acquitted. The other defendants, all convicted (ten later received life sentences) broke out in a cheer for him. (New York Times, March 14, 1999.)

In the 1997 Mexican Mafia trial, the defendants were accused of ordering or participating in the killings of three people who advised actor/director Edward James Olmos in the making of the movie ''American Me,'' which tracks the gang's history. (Copley News Service, February 02, 1999.)

A year later, Murillo was murdered in a parking lot. Torrez had been intercepted on a wiretap discussing the possibility of having to take out Murillo, but ultimately, it was a co-defendant named Charles Woody who was charged and convicted for killing Murillo.

Torrez pleaded guilty in the case to conspiracy to commit racketeering and had additonal racketeering and drug charges dismissed as part of a plea bargain. The sentencing memorandum is under seal, which makes it likely Torrez cooperated. (Sources: PACER, New York Times, March 14, 1999, and New Times (Los Angeles), August 9, 2001.) The headline to the New Times article is "When a key informant in the Mexican Mafia began plotting a murder, the FBI did nothing to stop him" and is available on Lexis.com. It is referring to co-defendant, Charles Woody, not Torrez.

So, why was Torrez killed and where were the guards? Was it retaliation for Torrez' being a snitch against Woody and/or others?
Or did he do something at Supermax that angered the other inmates? If a conspiracy was brewing to kill him, did the guards not get wind of it?

Somehow, I doubt that Ted Kaczynski or Terry Nichols or even Ramzi Yousef had anything to do with Torrez' murder. It's just not their style.

< Moussaoui Pleads Guilty - State Assisted Suicide? | Bush Administration Fines Texas >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 12:38:38 AM EST
    Oh well it happens, but in a Federal Supermax, the only way it will stop is one inmate cells, but this guy was jumped by other inmates, and if you check Torrez was a big time gang guy. But a supermax?.. could also been a setup by the fed's for some pay back inside the walls. many of our government people are doing deals with the international gangs.

    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 01:24:07 AM EST
    I thought everyone in a Supermax was basically isolated...

    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 06:51:44 AM EST
    guess not on the isolation. What does it tell us if an inmate can be beaten to death by group of other inmates in a super security type facility? Where were the guards?

    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 07:06:42 AM EST
    Citizens. Citizens. Citizens. "We" have prisons. Inside prisons "we" (citizens--gov't of the people--right) hire guards, with background and justice checks. They're pronounced 'good' to hire. They "LET" prisoners kill another prisoner...and become the vigilante's Pres BUSH IS SO VERY AGAINST AT OUR BORDERS. Border vigilantes 'watch' and call the 'authorities'...FREE OF CHARGE. They don't take law into their own hands. They inform and cause media to focus on a problem. Prison consequences...hopefully all the so-called guards will be fired, and have their background checks CHECKED WITH A MURDER ON THEIR WATCH. If 'we' wanted people dead 'we' would apply the death penalty during court proceedings. 'We' did not in the case of the killed/murdered/beaten to death inmate. No one could stop two "Beaters..." ??? No trained guardes available while he was beaten, had his chest broken, couldn't breathe and probably died in his own blood. So who cares...he was guilty of killing others, maybe. Guards are not VIGILANTES...and their conduct and lack of involvement should not be overlooked... Danielle

    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 12:12:12 PM EST
    Danielle great words.But I think it was a setup for drugs and money inside the system.

    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#6)
    by wishful on Sat Apr 23, 2005 at 02:57:51 PM EST
    I am shocked that whatever official "let" this happen did so in a Supermax. They must not care that this situation makes it clear that their cooperation was likely to be required. They aren't very bright or else they know they are untouchable, otherwise they would have made up some excuse where he would have been beaten to death in other than a Supermax. In a Supermax, such an occurance is nearly impossible if the rules are followed.

    Re: Inmate Beaten to Death at Supermax (none / 0) (#7)
    by anon55 on Mon Apr 25, 2005 at 04:55:58 AM EST
    This is to you people on here bashing the government. If you watch the clips on CNN about this you would have seen inmates on the rec yard that were talking with each other. Humm, makes you think that they get free time and can rec with other inmates. As a matter of fact over 10 can rec together in one rec yard. And as to the question of where were the guards. You need not forget that they are working with killers (obviously seeing as how the inmates just killed one of their own)everyday. The system is set up to protect the staff and inmates in that order. I personnally know where and what the staff were doing at the time of this incident and commend them for their efforts in saving this inmates life.