DNA Evidence Sets Texoma Man Free

Published: Aug. 4, 2010 at 10:26 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2010 at 10:39 PM CDT
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There are new developments in the case surrounding a Texoma native once accused of murder.  After five years behind bars former Wichitan Jerry Hobbs is free.  He'd been there since his 8-year-old daughter and friend were found murdered in Zion, Illinois.

Recent DNA tests in the case point to another man who is currently in jail in Virginia.  Although charges against Hobbs have been dropped, attorneys say the case is far from over.

Five years ago Jerry Hobbs called police after he found the bodies of his daughter Laura and her friend, Krystal Tobias brutally murdered in the woods.  He's been in custody since then.  Recent DNA evidence points to another man, Jorge Torrez.

Illinois State's Attorney Michael Waller says the investigation was handled in good faith, despite the recent DNA discovery.

"Obviously it was a red flag that we needed to, and, that's why we put it in the database.  It wasn't necessarily linked to the crime," he said.

Prosecutors cited a video-taped confession from Hobbs in 2005 as evidence.  Hobbs attorneys have said all along that his confession was coerced.  He pleaded not guilty to the crimes.

"I spoke to him in the jail and the first thing that he said was not, 'get me out of here,' it was, 'make sure that we do justice for Laura,'" said Hobbs' Attorney Keith Grant.

Hobbs had been released from jail in Wichita County for aggravated assault just one month before his daughters murder.  His attorney says Hobbs has been innocent of his daughter's murder all along.

"We cannot forget that throughout this, from the day he was first questioned by the police until right now today, Jerry Hobbs has never been anything other than a grieving father," Grant said.

Prosecutors say the evidence needs to be re-examined and witnesses re-interviewed.  They also say Torrez' DNA at the scene of the crime does not automatically indicate him as the killer.

A status hearing is scheduled for tomorrow in the case.  We've also learned Jerry Hobbs is on his way back to Wichita Falls.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6.