LEBANON, Pa. (AP) — A man serving time in an eastern Pennsylvania credit union robbery two years ago has been convicted in the shooting deaths of two men officials alleged he hired to transport him after the robbery.
Jurors convicted Gilberto Torres Reyes of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges Friday following a week-long trial in Lebanon County. He faces a mandatory term of life in prison without possibility of parole when he is sentenced Aug. 19.
Torres-Reyes has been serving a 38-month to 10-years sentence in the April 2018 holdup of Wyomissing’s Riverfront Credit Union.
Prosecutors said he offered $400 each to 27-year-old Alexis Rafael Perez-Garcia and 34-year-old Jelson Dejesus-Ortiz to drive him to Pittsburgh, but they were later found slain on Route 72 in Cornwall, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Reading. Both men had been shot in the back with a .22-caliber pistol, authorities said.
Police found a handgun on the road near the crashed vehicle as well as a cigarette butt in an ashtray from which they recovered DNA that matched that of the defendant, authorities said.
Witnesses reported seeing Torres Reyes flee the scene and try to carjack a passing motorist before he escaped, prosecutors said. Federal marshals arrested him several days later at a New York City hospital where he was using a false name, authorities said.
“Our victims died alone, on an asphalt roadway. Each man choked on his own blood,” District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said. “Each victim gasped for air, desperate to live. As each second passed, the victims knew their lives would soon end at the hands of the defendant.”
The district attorney said the proceeding was likely the first major trial in the state since the COVID-19 shutdown, and precautions were taken to protect all parties, including witnesses and jurors.