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Trial set for man accused of killing Roswell teacher


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

It’s been nearly three years since Lori Broughton Johnson, a beloved teacher and community member, was killed in a three-vehicle crash just east of Roswell on East Second Street that police say was caused by Victor M. Torres while he was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Johnson was 55 when she died on April 20, 2015. She was teaching sixth grade at Mesa Middle School in 2015 but had been at Washington Avenue Elementary for about 14 years before that.


Torres, who was 34 at the time, was charged in October 2015 with one count of homicide by vehicle. If convicted, he faces a mandatory prison sentence of two years and a maximum sentence of three years.

In the upcoming months, Torres is scheduled for four appearances before Judge Justin K. Hunter of the Fifth Judicial District in Roswell.

Torres is set for a jury trial at 9 a.m. on July 24, according to online court records. Preceding the trial, he is scheduled for a motion hearing on April 30 and two pre-trial hearings on May 7 and July 18. His attorney is Patricia Anders, according to online court records.

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In May 2017, members of Johnson’s expressed frustration with the delay in Torres’ trial date, which has been pushed back several times.

“I really feel that the world is still going, but we are stuck,” said Audrey Knudsen of Roswell, one of Johnson’s adult daughters.

Her sister, Ashlea Daniels, now of Ohio, added, “Two years and others are able to enjoy what I would give anything to enjoy — a hug, a kiss, a Christmas together.”

Police said that Torres, who was driving a 2004 Ford Explorer, was traveling east when he crossed the center line and hit Johnson’s 2012 Honda head-on. Torres also struck a 2003 Pontiac, but that driver was not injured.

Torres sustained multiple injuries and was flown for treatment to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, where he was placed in a medically induced coma.

Whether Torres was intoxicated at the time of the 2015 accident — and he was previously convicted of a DWI offense in Chaves County in November 2007 — is complicated by the fact that the injuries he sustained in the crash caused him to be airlifted to Lubbock for medical treatment. The results of any tests done there were not automatically made available to police or courts.

In lieu of being booked into jail after he was released from the hospital, Torres was given an appearance bond because of his medical condition, police said. Then Deputy District Attorney Michael Murphy said if someone is neither a flight risk nor a threat to the public, a judge can decide that the individual does not have to post either a cash or a surety bond.

In the criminal complaint, police investigators allege they smelled alcohol on Torres at the accident scene and spoke to a witness who said Torres had purchased two eight-packs of beer and had consumed at least four of them prior to the crash. The statement also alleges that investigators were informed that blood tests at the hospital indicated “high levels of alcohol.”

When Torres was finally able to be questioned in June after the accident, police said, he indicated that he was unable to recall the accident or events of that day.

Altogether, Torres has been arrested for DWI four times, according to court records.

In 2007, Torres was charged with criminal sexual penetration and false imprisonment. The prosector dismissed those charges.

In 2008, Torres was charged with child abuse after punching his son in the face. He pleaded no contest.

In 2010, while drunk he tried to stab his girlfriend, according to authorities.


Johnson was born in Austin, Texas, and graduated from Coahoma High School in Coahoma, Texas, in 1977. She earned a bachelor’s degree in religious education from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. She earned her second bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern New Mexico University.

Johnson met her future husband, Steve, at Hardin University. They married on July 2, 1983.

Johnson loved to travel, and some of her travel highlights included Alaska, Wyoming’s Teton Range and the Caribbean Islands.

Senior reporter Lisa Dunlap contributed to this story. 

Community News reporter Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or vistas@rdrnews.com.

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