Judge Brian Hill ruled there was ample evidence to warrant a full criminal trial against Matthew Robert Torres, accused of slipping quietly into the second-story studio apartment rented by a family of British tourists this May, sliding into the bed shared by the two young daughters, and molesting them. If the case goes to trial and Torres is convicted, he’s looking at life behind bars.
Torres, known to Santa Barbara City Police since 2009, broke into the studio — one door was unlocked — around 4 a.m. on July 23, got in bed with the two girls, pulled down their pants, and licked “their unseeables.” When he forcibly tried to get the older, age 7, to do the same to him, she resisted. When he then yanked her by the arm, she worried — according to the testimony of three police officers — he was trying to “steal” her. He then focused his attentions on the younger girl, age 5, hoisting her into the air and kissing her bottom. She kicked her feet at him, and he threw her to the bed. At that point, Torres reportedly walked to the parents’ bed and woke the father, either by grabbing his foot — according to police officers’ testimony — or by licking it. Officer Richard Washington testified that the girls’ father described Torres as being “very calm and matter of fact” and announced that his name was “Matthew.” The father quickly escorted Torres out of the apartment and then called 9-1-1. Torres was arrested that evening.
Subsequent DNA tests matched Torres to the victims. While defense attorney Michael Hanley quibbled with the tests, he didn’t dispute his client’s guilt. By his questions, Hanley suggested that Torres’s mental health or state of mind might become an issue at trial.