Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trial begins of ex-boyfriend accused of strangling West Tampa woman

TAMPA — Prosecutor Jalal Harb gave jurors three reasons Monday why they should find Jose Torres-Rodriguez guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend.

After he was arrested for violating a domestic violence injunction, he told people that Iris Hernandez-Morales would "pay for it" if she testified against him in court, Harb said.

Hours before Torres-Rodriguez's scheduled trial June 17, neighbors saw him hurrying from his ex's West Tampa home.

And after Hernandez-Morales, 35, didn't show for the trial, police found her strangled body inside her home. They also found two drops of blood that matched her ex-boyfriend's DNA, Harb said during his opening statement.

Testimony is expected to begin today.

The attorney representing Torres-Rodriguez, 56, said his client didn't kill Hernandez-Morales.

He didn't burglarize her home either, as prosecutors contend, Assistant Public Defender Kenneth Littman told jurors.

Littman said there were no signs of forced entry. Whoever killed the woman likely was invited in, he said.

The couple had a documented history of problems. Police were dispatched five times for domestic violence calls related to the pair in the year before Hernandez-Morales died.

The day she was killed, she was supposed to testify that her ex-boyfriend had violated a protective injunction by going into her back yard.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Trial begins of ex-boyfriend accused of strangling West Tampa woman 03/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 16, 2009 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Forecast: First day of fall brings more showers, humidity to Tampa Bay


    More moisture will filter into the Tampa Bay area on Friday, the official start of fall, allowing for higher rain chances through the day and beginning half of the weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Polk childcare workers who berated autistic child turn themselves in (w/video)


    WINTER HAVEN — Two childcare workers are facing child abuse charges after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old autistic child.

    Police are searching for two childcare workers - Kaderrica Smith, 26, and Alexis Henderson, 20 - after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old Autistic child in Winter Haven. [Winter Haven Police Department]
  3. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on …

    A Fort Myers woman who'd recently undergone a double-organ transplant painted a sign that said, "HOT SINGLE FEMALE SEEKS SEXY LINEMAN TO ELECTRIFY HER LIFE" and sure enough, she got her power turned back on. [Photo from video]
  5. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more


    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.