AYER – Eduardo Alementa Torres used crutches to enter the near-empty courtroom mid afternoon at Ayer District Court on Monday. The Mexican national remains held without bail following a dangerousness hearing before Judge Peter Kilmartin.
Torres’ case has sparked political wrangling over whether or not Massachusetts ought to submit to the federal Secure Communities program which pools fingerprint information between the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies to help identify criminal aliens. Governor Deval Patrick has held out, claiming the program could be abused to promote racial profiling and mistrust between the immigrant communities and law enforcement agencies.
Torres is alleged to be facing his sixth drunk driving conviction in the United States. Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney’s office was able to confirm that Torres was twice convicted for operating under the influence of alcohol in cases emanating out of Marlboro and ending with convictions in Middlesex County in 2000 and again in 2004. Not as clear, however, was whether or not three prior records out of California are arrests or convictions for drunk driving. Those total two different incidents in 2000 and a third in 2002.
ICE Spokesman Chuck Jackson said ICE agents became involved with Torres at the Middlesex County Jail and deported Torres from the U.S. for the first time on December 14, 2004 following his second Massachusetts drunken driving conviction was served out at the Cambridge Jail. Less than a half a year later, U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) agents collared Torres again on March 24, 2005 and deported Torres two days later.
When CBP encountered Torres again a year later on March 13, 2006 in California, Torres was deported the same day, according to Jackson.
Torres is apparently suffering from gout, according to a court officer, and so walked with the aid of crutches. Torres appeared to be wearing the same Nike-brand navy blue muscle shirt he wore to court for his Sept. 26 appearance a week earlier.
Torres listened intently to the proceedings through ear buds inserted into his ears as his Spanish-speaking interpreter, Cynthia Dow, sat on his right hand side quietly translating the testimony offered by Boxborough Patrolman Nathan Bowolick. To Torres’ left was his court appointed lawyer, Iris Grabarek of Acton.
Bowolick arrested Torres at 10:44 a.m. on Sept. 24 while he was patrolling Massachusetts Avenue (Route 111). While parked on neighboring Cunningham Street, Bowolick noticed an expired inspection sticker on the black 1988 Chevy pickup truck Torres had driven into the Gulf gas station off Massachusetts Avenue. When Torres pulled out onto Route 111 westbound, Bowolick followed and stopped Torres on the southbound onramp for Interstate Route 495.
Bowolick reported finding a 12-pack of Modello beer bottles and one open bottle “within arms’ reach” of Torres on the front seat. Bowolick also reported the odor of alcohol emanating from the truck, and that Torres’ eyes were glassy and bloodshot. Though Torres’ produced a registration, Bowolick cited Torres for failure to provide a valid license. Torres also allegedly provided a phony name by writing down the name of another on a slip of paper.
Due to the language barrier, Bowolick said he placed Torres under arrest instead of launching into a roadside sobriety test. Bowolick directly transported Torres to the Littleton Police Department for fingerprinting which proved unsuccessful in identifying Torres’ true identity.
Next, Bowolick transported Torres to the Boxborough police headquarters where, an hour and a half after the original stop, Bowolick recorded Torres as having twice blown a .09 blood-alcohol count (BAC) reading on the Breathalyzer machine. State law defines intoxicated motor vehicle operation as driving with readings above .08-percent BAC readings.
Bowolick explained to Torres that he’d remain held without bail until he was identified. Bowolick said that’s when Torres then provided his true name and 1975 birth date which revealed the prior two Massachusetts OUI convictions. Contact was made with ICE which sent a photo to Boxborough police and confirmed the match to the man the federal agencies had thrice before deported.
But Judge Kilmartin questioned the assumptions being made from Torres’ “Triple-I” (Interstate Identification Index System) report. It had been stated that the Triple-I report showed that Torres has three California drunk driving convictions – two in 2000 and one in 2002. But Grabarek argued the dates on the Triple-I report may be mere arrest dates but not convictions which would cause Torres to face a sixth drunk driving charge out of Ayer District Court.
Kilmartin asked Assistant District Attorney Felicia Sullivan to track down the correct California data and to share it with Grabarek before the October 26 pretrial hearing date. In the interim, Torres remains held without bail, as Kilmartin said there were “no conditions appropriate for his release at this point in time.”
There has been media glare on the Torres’ OUI case which arose about a month after an Aug. 20 fatal motor vehicle accident in Milford which claimed the life of 23-year old Matthew Denice of that town who was struck while riding a bicycle. A 34-year Ecuadorian in the U.S. illegally, Nicolas Guaman, is charged with motor vehicle homicide for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and other charges at the time of the crash.
Even if Torres is cleared of these charges, ICE agents have placed a detainer on him, meaning he will be turned over to federal custody once the criminal case concludes and he serves any prison time in this OUI case. ICE has indicated that Torres could also face federal prosecution for illegal re-entry after deportation.