View Full Version : Court declines to hear appeal in Torres wrongful death suit

11-05-2004, 05:06 PM
Court declines to hear appeal in Torres wrongful death suit
BY ELAINE WILSON American staff writer

Eleven years after the murder of Shelley Torres by her abusive ex-husband, the state's highest court declined to hear the final appeal of a wrongful death suit that claimed the city of Anacortes failed to protect her.

"In denying review, the Washington Supreme Court has finally brought this case to a conclusion," said the city's attorney, Jayne L. Freeman of Seattle firm Keating, Bucklin & McCormack.

The victim's mother, Barbara Torres, filed the suit in 1995, alleging that the Anacortes Police Department did not adequately act to protect her daughter.

According to court papers, Michael McGuffey physically and sexually assaulted Shelley Torres on several occasions, and Torres reported the last of those assaults to the Anacortes police.

She sought a restraining order against McGuffey only five weeks before he killed her on Sept. 23, 1993.

McGuffey fled the country and was not captured until 2001, when a viewer of "America's Most Wanted" recognized him in Mexico.

He pled guilty to Torres' murder in 2002. During the preparation for the trial, evidence from the investigation showed that Torres had agreed to meet with McGuffey on more than one occasion after she received the restraining order.

"It was not until Michael McGuffey was apprehended in 2001 for Shelley's murder, that the evidence from the criminal investigation came to light conclusively establishing that Shelley Torres never had relied on Anacortes police to provide any type of protection for her, nor had she disclosed her ongoing contact with him to police," Freeman said.

The Snohomish County Superior Court dismissed the wrongful death suit in 2002, a decision that was upheld by the State Court of Appeals in 2003. The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the appeal means that the ruling will stand, Freeman said.

Freeman said that the correct person is paying for the crime.

"Mike McGuffey is in prison. The city is relieved McGuffey was ultimately brought to justice, and that the civil system properly found the city was not responsible for his unforgivable acts of violence," she said.

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