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Suspects in home invasion of Las Cruces MMA fighter formally indicted

By: Bill Melugin LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- The suspects accused of breaking into Las Cruces mixed martial arts fighter Joe Torrez' home earlier this month have been formally indicted by a grand jury.

Leonard Calvillo, 22, Raymond P. Garces, 19 and Nathan Avalos, 20, were all indicted on one count of aggravated burglary (Commits Battery), one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary (Battery), one count of attempt to commit a felony, to wit: aggravated battery (Great Bodily Harm), one count of criminal damage to property (under $1000).

All three are due to appear in District Court, at 8 a.m. Jan. 27, before Judge Fernando R. Macias for arraignment.

All three men remain in custody, and the Dona Ana County district attorney has not yet decided whether or not charges against Torrez will be pursued regarding the death of the fourth suspect, Sal Garces.

Torrez was supposed to be at the premiere fight at Rocktagon in east El Paso Friday night, but he was removed from the card after the incident.

KFOX14 spoke with MMA fighters at the event about Torrez's situation.

"I have a 2-year-old daughter; I think I would've done the same if I had a chance to terminate them as much as I can, you never know, they could come back again, sometimes calling the cops isn't enough," said Alex Launa. "He did commit, let's say murder, but if I'm trained and they have a weapon, I think that's legal, I would call that legal, and I would've done the same thing to protect my family with everything I had."

"Me personally, I'm trained and everything, I would do the same thing to take care of my family, so I'm for him," said David Alcantar. "As for the possible charges on him, I mean there has to be some kind of limitation on that, charging, just because he's a trained fighter? He's going to go out and protect his family to have charges filed on him, it's not right."

As KFOX14 previously reported, police said Saul Garces, Raymond Garces, Calvillo and Avalos, broke into Torrez's home shortly after he got into an argument with them.

Torrez lived there with his fiance and young son. When deputies arrived to the scene, one man was found seriously injured and later died, while another was hospitalized. The three surviving men were arrested.

Last week, two women, Cylver Pearl Betancourt and Rachel Carrillo were believed to have accompanied the group of men and were arrested without incident.

In a press conference held Jan. 7, District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said if convicted, all three men could face several years in prison.

The District Attorney's Office is also investigating whether they should press charges against Torrez in connection with Sal Garces' death.

"As of today I don't have enough a facts and information to make those important decisions, but I expect I will have that within the next few weeks," D'Antonio said.

Earlier last week, Torrez's attorney, C.J. McElhinney, told The Associated Press his client would no longer be cooperating with authorities in the case.

McElhinney had said he feared Torrez would face charges even though he was protecting his family and home during the home invasion.

"If we do have charges filed we're going to fight this thing in court all the way to the end," McElhinney said in a previous interview with KFOX14.