Missing body at issue in alleged 1992 murder
There is no body or any DNA or forensic evidence to show that Pearl Harbor cashier Ruben Gallegos is dead or that a crime was committed against him.
So an indictment accusing former Pearl Harbor police officer Jenaro Torres of Gallegos' murder in 1992 should be dismissed, Torres' attorneys argued yesterday.
Circuit Judge Michael Town is expected to rule at a later date on that request, as well as a motion to toss out evidence recovered from a search of Torres' car when he tried to re-enter Pearl Harbor hours after Gallegos disappeared.
An Oahu grand jury brought a second-degree murder charge against Torres in December, 14 years after Gallegos was reported missing.
Gallegos was last seen leaving a cashier's cage on May 5, 1992, at about 9 a.m. carrying a money bag and accompanied by Torres, who was off duty that day and had taken leave. Gallegos had been issued $80,000 in cash and coins to cash sailors' military paychecks.
Pearl Harbor police stopped Torres as he tried to enter Pearl Harbor at about 2:10 p.m., and he was arrested. In the glove compartment of Torres' car, police found a Smith & Wesson revolver that appeared to have been fired recently. In the trunk was a canvas bag containing all except $2,000 of the missing money, Gallegos' wallet, his driver's license and a police uniform belonging to Torres.
Deputy public defender Ed Harada argued that not only has the state failed to show that a crime was committed, the state has not shown that Torres, rather than someone else, is responsible or that either Torres or Gallegos fired the gun.
Also, the evidence seized from the car is inadmissible because military police failed to first obtain a search warrant approved by the court, Harada said.
Deputy Attorney General Susan Won argued that a body is not needed to proceed with the case and that based on circumstantial evidence, the state believes Gallegos is dead, likely from being shot.
Torres' ex-wife and a former female co-worker had testified before the grand jury about statements he made to them about getting rid of someone in Hawaii and that no one knew where he hid the body.
Won also argued that Torres had no reasonable expectation of privacy and that there was implied consent to search the car as a condition of entry. Signs posted outside all entrances to Pearl Harbor, including Makalapa Gate, advise anyone entering that they and their property are subject to search. As a base police officer whose duties include working the gate, Torres was familiar with the policies and procedures regarding entry, she said.