A third man accused in the 2007 shooting death of Mount Vernon inn owner Robert Whiteside plead guilty Friday to murder.
Elbis Torres Friday in district court in Franklin County pled guilty to the murder of Whiteside in exchange for a 30 year sentence, District Attorney Martin Braddy said Friday afternoon.
Torres is the second person to accept a 30-year deal in exchange for pleading guilty to Whiteside’s murder. Juan Chavez of Dallas also previously plead guilty to the murder, while Mark Aaron Rains of Mount Vernon pled guilty in July 2008 to the capital murder of Whiteside in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Based on information obtained from codefendants and other witnesses, prosecutors believe that Rains and Chavez were the masterminds behind what was supposed to be a burglary and robbery of the inn, but resulted in Whiteside’s death.
“We believe Rains and Chavez were responsible for the plan, which was for robbery and burglary, not murder. They intended to rob [Whiteside]. They solicited Torres assistance. Torres was Chavez’ nephew, but was older than him so he called him ‘cuz’. Torres was married to Chavez niece so he was actually his nephew in law. Torres provided the weapon and went with them to the bed and breakfast, Veranda. He went in after the murder took place. We believe his involvement was significant to the level of responsibility for the murder, but not the same level as the shooter.
Torres’ wife and mother-in-law was issued subpoenas to give statements before a grand jury “with regard to Torres’ involvement.” Following that session, Torres was indicted.
“The case we had on him was based on his codefendants and testimony from his wife and mother-in-law,” Braddy said. “Looking at the cases all as a whole, we were convinced of his guilt. It was not the strongest case, but we were prepared to go to trial. He took responsibility for his actions.”
Braddy said that based on conversations that had been conducted with Chavez and Torres during the course of the investigation into Whiteside’s murder, he believed that each man “showed remorse for his actions. The gravity of his [Chavez’s] actions was impressed upon him. It must have had the same on Torres. He did express that I believe based on my observations. ... It seemed Torres was sincere as well.”
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