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Ex-Pearl Harbor police officer pleads no contest in 1992 case

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 03:10 p.m. HST, Mar 07, 2013

A former Pearl Harbor base police officer charged with murder in connection with the disappearance in 1992 of a Navy Exchange cashier pleaded no contest in state court this morning to first-degree assault.

As part of his plea deal with the state Attorney General, Jenaro Torres, 64, agreed to the maximum prison term.

State Circuit Judge Michael Wilson imposed the 10-year sentence and ordered Torres to serve at least five years of the sentence behind bars for using a firearm to commit the assault. 

Torres has already been in state custody for seven years.

Ruben Gallegos disappeared on May 1, 1992 while working at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base Exchange. He was last seen being escorted out of his cashier’s cage by Torres.

Pearl Harbor police arrested Torres attempting to enter the Navy base later that day. In his car they found most of the $80,000 that was assigned to Gallegos, the cashier’s wallet, identification and other personal belongings, a stun gun and a firearm that contained three spent shell casings.

Gallegos’s body was never found.

Torres pleaded no contest in federal court to theft and a firearm charge and was sentenced to two years in prison.

In 2005 the state charged Torres with murder. A state jury found him guilty in 2007.

Despite the pleas from Gallegos’s sister, Torres refused to give authorities the location of Gallegos’s body. At his parole hearing, he said he would do so at the appropriate time.

The Hawaii Supreme Court overturned Torres’s conviction in 2011 because of the manner in which federal police seized the items they found in Torres’s car.

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sailfish1 wrote:
"At his parole hearing, he said he would do so at the appropriate time." - Doesn't that tell everyone that he killed Gallegos? He gets 10 years for "first-degree assault" of which he's already served 7 years. So, he gets out in 3 years and gets away with murder? What is wrong with our criminal justice system?
on March 7,2013 | 11:09AM
psychodude wrote:
Not only our criminal justice system but also and mainly the legislators we vote in to serve us. Most of the politicians we vote to represent us have selfish interests. At times, we need to look beyond our tunnel vision blaming the justice system and point fingers at our politicians.
on March 7,2013 | 11:24AM
cojef wrote:
Spent 7 years in custody, so his sentence is 10 years and that he must serve a minimum of 5 years, looks like he may be able to smell the grass, while Gallegos body has yet to be found and enable the family to have closure. The mystery of the judicial system, the scale of justice seem unbalanced.
on March 7,2013 | 11:10AM
kainalu wrote:
Yep. Unbelievable. This punk got a job as a delivery driver, and actually made a delivery back to the old Navy Exchange Warehouse at Manana in Pearl City. He was recognized by the Exchange Security guard, and denied access to the compound. The guy is brutally cold-blooded. He shouldn't be seeing the light of day. He's going to be out at least by the time he's 74, possibly by the time he's 69. Essentially, have gotten away with cold-blooded murder.
on March 7,2013 | 03:33PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Look, if we were serious about gun control, the penalty for using a gun in a case like this would be very severe, not 5 years in the slammer and then walk out. Take the guns from the bad guys. Don't let the crazies have guns. Punish the guys that use guns to do wrong. But leave the responsible folk alone.
on March 7,2013 | 11:25AM
Honto5 wrote:
While I do agree the punishment doesn't fit the crime and this person should utimately be charged with 1st degree murder, but due to our court system, the search of his car was illegal even if they had sufficient evidence. But this isn't about gun control. He committed the crime while he was still a Pearl Harbor Police Officer, so he had access to a gun not as a "bad guy" but in his duties as a supposedly "Good Guy". In this case, the gun isn't the problem......it's the greediness of a wicked and evil person.
on March 7,2013 | 12:14PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I totally agree with you on this. In this case, the gun was in his possession because he was a police officer. It is required for his line of work. What really bothers me is that this rotten apple puts police officers in a bad light. Why? Because he is the one that that the limelight will be put on. Not the ones who go out of their way to help those who need it. Many of us are volunteers helping the homeless, etc. But I think Maneki_Neko is just bringing it up because others may use this story as a reason for extreme gun control.
on March 7,2013 | 01:55PM
Poipounder808 wrote:
The appropriate charge would be Murder in the 2nd degree not 1st. Read the penal code.
on March 7,2013 | 02:11PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I was under the impression he was already an ex-cop when all this went down. My bad. If still an active duty cop then of course you guys are right - he has the authority to be carrying a weapon even if he is a bad boy.
on March 7,2013 | 06:18PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
This criminal has no Aloha and should be sent to Arizona where he can dine on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
on March 7,2013 | 11:34AM
dlum003 wrote:
Arrogant SOB
on March 7,2013 | 12:00PM
kds wrote:
assault? assault for murder? something is seriously wrong with our court system, our judges, our state and county prosecutors who routinely plea these cases out. this guy could be out at his next parole hearing. just like that....
on March 7,2013 | 12:05PM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
There is no justice in this case. Ruben Gallegos photo has haunted the news for so many years, and in the end his apparent killer gets to walk free with little consequence for his actions. I hope that soon after he is finally released, Torres jay walks and gets what he deserves from a passing car. Now that would be true justice.
on March 7,2013 | 12:20PM
steveoctober wrote:
Justice not served. Should've been given a life term and a severe beating.
on March 7,2013 | 12:31PM
hanoz808 wrote:
if he even makes acknowledgements like "he said he would do so at the appropriate time" then it's close as can be to a confession.......and that statement is just CREEPY
on March 7,2013 | 12:47PM
SaySomethingNow wrote:
How about stay locked away until the "appropriate time" even if the time served is up. That statement sounds so "Hannibal Lector" creepy!
on March 7,2013 | 01:11PM
Bully wrote:
Such a pathetic criminal justice system. The crime was committedin 1992. The evidence was found in the car at the time. Convicted the guy in 2007. The guy is 64 years old now. The crime was committed 20 years ago.
on March 7,2013 | 01:16PM
Kaluu wrote:
This is the kind of sentencing crap that has to end. Gun control? When it comes to people like this, you better believe it! Gun used in commission of a crime like this? Put em away, and never mind how much it costs to keep em away from real people. Have noticed some bad gunners nationally lately who got out and did it all over again. Put creeps away for buying guns for outlaws, and put outlaws away for using guns in crime. We're just asking for more of the same this way.
on March 7,2013 | 01:23PM
tiki886 wrote:
Isn't the reason for a plea because the prosecution doesn't have enough evidence or that the evidence is not strong enough to support a more serious charge?
on March 7,2013 | 01:31PM
kainalu wrote:
They don't have a body. But found the victim's wallet and ID, along with the cash stolen in the trunk of a vehicle Torres was driving. Again, Torres than a Pearl Harbor Naval Base Police officer assigned to escort the Navy Exchange cashier carrying the load of cash to another cashier's cage for the purpose of cashing sailors' pay-day checks. How the investigators secured the evidence found in his trunk however, has been deemed illegal by a higher-court, hence, his conviction for murder thrown out.
on March 7,2013 | 05:13PM
gtm9558 wrote:
He should be released at the "appropriate time", 10 years after he confesses where the body is buried and found. The clock doesn't start until the body is found.
on March 7,2013 | 01:35PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
This story was shown on Most Wanted and Torres was the suspect all along. It is good to know that the victim finally gets some justice, even if it is not much of it. It really bothers me that he only will serve a short term for the murder that he committed and was originally convicted of. All because the policework that was done by the Pearl Harbor police was done incorrectly. Because of their shoddy work this convicted criminal will be out on the streets in no time. Given that he has already served seven year he may be out in three years. He will have served only ten years for the murder of an innocent man while wearing the color of the law. Because he committed the crime under the color of the law he should have been given a much stiffer sentence.
on March 7,2013 | 02:00PM
50skane wrote:
Perfect 'LOCK 'EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY" scenario. Because of bad federal police search, so much evidence gone. You can definitely get away with murder in this state with our liberal minded judges.
on March 7,2013 | 02:45PM
kailua000 wrote:
best place in the USA..well, the world, to commit a crime. Right here in Hawaii nei.
on March 7,2013 | 04:56PM
soundofreason wrote:
Maybe instead of advertising hotel room rates, we should advertise our LOW sentencing rates. Want somebody gone? Bring them to Hawaii to do the job. What you kill in Hawaii.......(still working on the end)
on March 7,2013 | 05:10PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
stays in Hawaii. there, i finished it for you.
on March 7,2013 | 08:48PM
honokai wrote:
The term is plea bargain. He wouldn't plea unless he got a bargain. They had evidence that couldn't be used. They had a weakened case, so they gave him a bargain. He took it.
on March 7,2013 | 05:55PM
WAIT A MINUTER, WAIT A MINUTE! He admits robbing and killing a cashier working at the PX and he only serves 10 years. Why so easy? He just got away with murder and armed robbery. I just don't get it???
on March 7,2013 | 07:14PM
manapua19 wrote:
Messed up. From reading the appeal, it looks like the evidence in the trunk was obtained legally under federal and military law but not state. So since the case is being tried in state court, the evidence was ruled inadmissible. http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/opin_ord/sct/2011/apr/28583.pdf
on March 7,2013 | 07:26PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
thank you for the link, but can you just give a synopsis, cuz , it's a bit much to read.
on March 7,2013 | 08:53PM
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