Elijah L. Strickland
August 4, 2004 - July 11, 2008

Elijah Strickland was pronounced dead after he was transported to Easton Hospital when First Responders arrived at the home of his mother Lauren Anderson and her boyfriend, 21 year old Eugenio J. Torres.

Eugenio had a couple of stories to tell about what happened to Elijah at first saying he had heard a noise in the bathroom and went to check it out and found that Elijah. A second story said that he had been taking a bath WITH Elijah and when he put him under the water to rinse off the soap, the child stopped breathing adding that when he stepped out of the tub, he slipped and dropped the child. Either way, Eugino said that Elija had only been dead about five minutes before he called for help.

Elijah's injuries were said to include a skull fracture, internal bleeding in his stomach and live and burns so bad from scalding water that the skin on his bottom was peeling off.

Eugenio had only been living with Lauren and Elijah for about two weeks when she went to work one morning leaving Eugenio to care for Elijah, that was a big mistake on her part because he proceeded to beat this innocent little boy to death:

"Because of the extensive injuries this child sustained, it is my opinion
that this child was tortured to death"
Zachary Lysek - Coroner

Eugenio was arrested and at his preliminary hearing, Lauren broke down while listening to the details of the injuries that her son suffered at the hands of the man she trusted to take care of him. Eugenio was said to have shown no emotion at all while the details were heard in front of Judge Michael Koury Jr. who sent the case to Northampton County for a trial to take place.

Eugenio's family was there saying that he was innocent and his Lawyers entered a not guilty plea on his behalf:

"My son didn't do it, I stand by my son. He's not a violent person, he loves children"
Debra Torres

"All the truth will come out"
Eugenio Torres Sr.

District Attorney Terry Houck had not yet decided if he would be seeking the death penalty against Eugenio who would be arraigned on October 30, 2008:

"I'm absolutely 100 percent convinced he is guilty of these charges. This
is one of the worst cases of child abuse, physical abuse, I have seen in my
22 years as a Prosecutor"

Terry Houck said that the abuse of children often takes place when an adult who is not usually a caregiver for children can't handle a child crying or not behaving the way they want them to and that while he wasn't sure of a motive at that point, he was knew that Eugenio was not telling the truth about what took place that day.

Joseph Sipel and EMT and Fireman said that when he arrived at the apartment, he found Eugenio was doing CPR on Elijah and that's when he was told that a noise was heard and Eugenio found Elijah in the tub and said that it had only been five minutes. Joseph Sipel said that Elijah's hair was dry and his right eye was swollen shut, his belly was distended and his left eye was open and just staring while his body was cool to the touch and he had no pulse at all.
Zachary Lysek said that the injuries on Elijah's body showed that he had been hit multiple times on his head and boy.

Family and friends of Eugenio came to the hearing but made no comments to anyone. Eugenio was held without bail.

In November of 2010 a friend testified that Eugenio had sounded crazy, saying he wanted to kill Elijah on the day he had died:

"He just started babbling about leaving Lauren and about how
the kid was irking his nerves"
Damion Moses

Damion said that Eugenio told him he wanted to get high by smoking Marijuana so he brought him a joint and when he entered the apartment he saw Eugenio hit Elijah with the back of his hand and after Elijah started to whimper, he was dragged to the bathroom, it wasn't much later that Eugenio ended up killing this little Angel. The 911 tape was played as the jurors listened and Eugenio was heard saying:

"Don't let him die"

Michael Corriere, Defense Lawyer for Eugenio said that the tape was the best evidence to support innocence in this case:

"You're there, you're there as a child's life is slipping away"

The tape, in the opinion of Michael Corriere, showed the emotions that Eugenio was feeling while attempting to save the life of Elijah. In court, Eugenio put his head down on the table while another Defense Lawyer, Bohdan Zelechiwsky tried to comfort him. Another tape was played that had been made while Eugenio was being interviewed about the over 80 bruises and multiple injuries that Elijah had. Eugenio was saying that he felt responsible for his death:

"Because I thought I could've helped him. I thought I could save him.
That's all"

A Pathologist testified that it was possible that some of the bruising had occured while CPR was being administered. Prosecutors said that Eugenio had beaten Elijah to death to shut him up:

"Who was this panic for? The child's death? Who is Torres panicking
for now? Think about what his tears are for, who his tears are for,
for himself"
Terry Houck

Pictures of the injuries were shown in court and Terry Hock said that claims that this death could have been an accident were nonsense and that claims of the injuries happening during CPR were ridiculous:

"People are saved through CPR. They are not killed"

Terru Houck ended his statements by showing pictures of Elijah side by side, one of his before he died and one of his bruised body after he was beaten. Elijah's grandmother closed her eyes while some other people started to cry, Eugenio looked away and was said to stare stone faced at the jury.

Lauren testified that she was never afraid to leave her son with Eugenio alone, the couple had played together with Elijah, read books to him and they all seemed to be happy together with Eugenio even being the one to cut Elijah's hair when it was needed. When questioned by Eugenio's Lawyer in court, she said that he sounded upset on the phone, crying and hard to understand when he called to say something was wrong. Lauren had been able to keep herself composed in court up to the point where the blood stained clothing of her son was brought out and then she started to cry.

Pictures were shown to Lauren of how things were after she had left that day. A belt was shown, the belt had been found in Elijah's room, it belonged to her and was now showing an orange stain. Pictures showed that the apartment was not the way she left it, with things being in "disarray", a poster in Elijah's room was partially torn off of the wall, his sheets were taken off of his bed and a closet door was hanging off the track. Lauren said she left for work at about 6:30 a.m. that day, shortly after she left, a neighbor said she heard loud banging noises coming from their apartment:

"It sounded like something getting thrown against the wall. I never heard
banging like that before"
Marie Sanders

A nurse testified about what condition Elijah was in when he reached the hospital:

"He had multiple bruises all over his body"

Joshua Torres lived with a woman at the time and her name was Rebecca Caban. Rebecca gave testimony that she had never been witness to any abuse by Eugenio:

"He was very loving toward Elijah. He would play with him, babysit him.
They had a good relationship"

Richard Bundie, a Pathologist, testified that it was possible that some of the injuries could have been from the accident that Eugenio described, saying that the burns could have come from hot water in the tub and other injuries could have been from being dropped when Eugenio slipped. Richard Bundie said that even with the different stories that had been told, he was still of the opinion that it could have been an accidental death. Richard Bundie did admit that it was cause for suspicion that when Eugenio spoke to Lauren on the phone after Elijah had been injured, he never mentioned any of the injuries he had or that anything was wrong at all.

The jury found 24 year old Eugenio Torres guilty of first degree murder after deliberating for four hours. Eugenio didn't show any emotion as he was lead from the court room, he only told his mother that he loves her. The jury would now face the decision of either giving Eugenio the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison, no chance of parole.

In court Terry Houck showed pictures again and said:

"The horror that this child, Elijah Strickland, had to endure, beaten, burned
and killed. The horror"

Michael Corriere said that none of the evidence had pointed to premeditated murder and that all of it showed that what happened had been an accident:

"The 911 tape clearly indicates he was upset. He cared about this
child. He was trying to help him"

I guess Michael Corriere forgot about the man who testified to hearing Eugenio say he wanted to kill Elijah and saw with his own eyes that he wasn't afraid to his this child and then drag him down the hallway and just a short time later, the Elijah was dead. Terry Houck said that Eugenio had no choice but to call after what he did, he knew Elijah was in trouble and he needed to make it seem like an accident had taken place.

Eugenio's mother was in court to plead for the life of her son:

"Please, please have mercy on my son. Don't put him to death. Please"
Debra Torres

In November of 2010 Eugenio Torres caught a break when the jury deadlocked on life or death, the default sentence was life in prison without parole, his life would be spared. The decision brought up some controversary:

"The Elijah Strickland family will continue to pay state of Pennsylvania
taxes forever. Some of their money goes for the incarceration of Torres.
This is crazy"
From a letter to the newspaper

Reports said if Eugenio lived for another 60 years, he would receive 21,900 days worth of three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, a roof over his head and all of that was paid for by the taxpayers. A juror said that the vote had been ten to two with two opposing the death penalty:

"The whole experience was horrific"
Peter Orr - Jury Foreman

In November of 2014, Eugenio had filed an appeal for post conviction relief after having lost another appeal attempt. The new appeal was before presented to Judge Leonard Zito who ruled that there were no valid claims that would allow for post conviction relief and the claim was dismissed without a hearing. Alezander Karam was allowed to withdraw from the case in which he was the court appointed Lawyer for Eugenio.

In the appeal, Eugenio had said that he was innocent and had not had proper representation during his trial saying that his Lawyer had convinced him not to take the stand and defend himself. Eugenio also said that Damion Moses had recanted his testimony since the trial had ended. Damian, who was in prison at the time he was interviewed, had supposedly told a private investigator that he had lied when he testified. When he was out of prison, the private investigator tried to interview him again and was not able to contact him.

Judge Leonard Zito said that he didn't believe the testimony of Damion had been a key factor in the guilty verdict:

"The testimony of Moses was not essential to the verdict and the
jury could easily have convicted Torres without it. For these reasons,
we discount the impact, if any, that Moses' prison recantation would
have had on a possible appellate claim, even if he had followed up
with Corriere after his release from prison"

This page was created on January 28, 2015
Death occurred in the state of New York

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