New sentencing ordered for 1 in fatal gas station robbery
PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. (AP) — A new sentencing hearing has been ordered for one of the people convicted in the death of a New Jersey gas station attendant during a robbery more than seven years ago.
The New Jersey Appellate Court panel ordered the hearing while upholding the conviction of 30-year-old Andy Torres on felony murder, armed robbery, conspiracy and weapons charges, LehighValleyLive.com reported.
Prosecutors said the former Allentown resident and three others plotted the January 2012 robbery of the BP gas station in Phillipsburg during which 47-year-old Kismathdas Kasam was shot and later died.
Authorities alleged Torres was the gunman, but he was acquitted of first-degree murder after two co-defendants refused to testify.
The appeals court rejected defense calls for a mistrial but took issue with the judge’s reasoning in imposing the maximum 40-yeaer sentence, specifically the aggravating factors that were cited.
The judge cited the shooting, calling it “an act of braggadocio” committed after the robbery had been completed. But the appeals court noted that Torres wasn’t convicted of first-degree murder and it was never proven who actually pulled the trigger, so that should not have been cited in sentencing.
The panel also disagreed with the death being considered an aggravating factor, saying it was already part of the felony murder charge.
Torres received the stiffest sentence of the four defendants. His girlfriend, Alexis Flowers, now 28, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. Her brother, Zachary Flowers, now 25, was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison. David Beagell, now 28, pleaded guilty as an accomplice to armed robbery and is serving a 12-year sentence.