CROWN POINT — Jovanni Torres was found guilty of murder Friday at trial in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Aimee Giro, more than a year ago at his Lake Station home.
The jury deliberated for about 3½ hours before reaching its verdict. The jury also found Torres, 32, guilty of a sentencing enhancement for using a firearm in the commission of the offense, which will add five to 20 years to the 40- to 65-year sentence he faces for murder.
Torres, dressed in a white button up and black slacks, showed little emotion throughout the trial, and the verdict was no exception. The friends and family of Giro, 26, let out an audible gasp when the verdict was read, but waited until they were outside the courtroom before they cried and hugged.
Giro, a part-time waitress and Indiana University Northwest student, was found dead Oct. 5, 2016, in Torres' home in the 2700 block of New Hampshire Street.
The woman celebrated at her best friend's bachelorette party Sept. 30, 2016, but then disappeared after a friend said she dropped Giro off at Torres' home.
Her father, Juan Giro, testified he went to Torres' home Oct. 5 looking for his daughter, when he noticed flies and a rotting smell at the home.
Torres denied seeing Giro in the days before her body was discovered, claiming she left after a fight over his Adderall use.
Police obtained a search warrant and forced entry into the home, where the woman's partially nude and decomposing body was found sprawled next to the couple's bed, her head face down in a blue tote containing her clothing and cell phone.
A forensic pathologist testified Thursday that Giro was dead from gunshot wounds to the head and lower back. The bullet that penetrated the lower back exited her abdomen and lodged in her wrist, where it was recovered by the pathologist.
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A .45 caliber handgun registered to Torres was found wrapped in a bath robe inside the home. A firearm expert testified Thursday the gun fired the bullet found in the woman, and also ejected a shell casing found near her body.
Friends and coworkers testified Tuesday about conflict that marred the couple's yearlong relationship. Giro's manager at Baker's Square in Merrillville testified Tuesday that Giro came to work with a black eye a few weeks before her murder.
She told the jury that Giro said the black eye was from a fight she had with Torres after she caught him looking at child pornography.
About a month before her murder, a cousin said she picked Giro up from the side of the road near Torres' home, where she was walking without pants and crying after the couple fought.
Supervisory Prosecutor Aleksandra Dimitrijevic said in closing statements Friday that Torres had the "motive, means and opportunity" to kill Giro. There was no "mystery killer," she argued.
Deputy Prosecutor Maryam Afshar served as lead prosecutor for the case. Detective Sgt. Kevin Garber, now retired from Lake Station Police Department, was the lead investigator for the murder.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 14.