By Carlotta Mohamed
It only took a jury 11 minutes of deliberation to find Steven Torres guilty of murder in the fatal stabbing of a 69-year-old man under an elevated Elmhurst train station on Sept. 16, 2013, the Queens DA’s office said.
Torres, 27, of West 195th Street in the Bronx, was convicted May 24 of second-degree murder after a one-week jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Schwartz. Torres will be sentenced June 8, when he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
“The victim in this case was killed in a violent, unprovoked attack. The defendant fatally stabbed an innocent bystander in a senseless act of range,” Brown said. “At sentencing, the defendant faces a very long-term of incarceration that will protect others and punish him for this horrible crime.”
After the victim, Ever Orozco, 69, of Woodside, dropped off his wife at a nearby doctor’s office, he parked his car near the station at 90th Street and Elmhurst Avenue at about 1 p.m. He was then viciously attacked and stabbed multiple times by Torres, Brown said, according to trial testimony.
Orozco was rushed to Elmhurst General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Torres, who was 22 when he stabbed Orozco, was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the DA’s office. The NYPD had initially said he was being charged with murder as a possible hate crime, but the Queen’s district attorney office said the accusation was lifted as the investigation continued. Torres attacked and killed Orozco because he thought the older man had blown kisses at him, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who chairs the Council’s LGBT Caucus.
“There is no evidence to substantiate this claim, but even if there were, it would not justify such horrific violence,” said Dromm. “It is bone-chilling that someone in our neighborhood was murdered because he was believed to be gay.”
Dromm said the gay panic defense that Torres tried to employ has been discredited by legal experts across the nation and has no place in today’s society.
“I am pleased that the jury helped bring Torres to justice, said Dromm. “I hope this outcome brings some solace to the Orozco family, who have had to endure so much over these past few years.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who spoke at a news conference at the corner of 90th Street and Roosevelt Avenue days after the murder — along with Dromm, then-Comptroller John Liu and state Assemblymen Michael DenDekker and Francisco Moya — to denounce the murder of Ever Orozco, has been fighting to transform Roosevelt Avenue into a destination for families and visitors.
“Some of my proposals to tackle illicit behavior along the commercial thoroughfare include fighting sex trafficking, the sale of drugs and the fake identification market,” Peralta said Wednesday. “We need to ensure we all work together and act to convert this busy commercial corridor into a gem by getting rid of the bad actors.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha