Man acquitted of murder in death of Elijah Torres

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- The man who was charged with murder in the March 1 shooting death of Elijah Torres was acquitted by a jury on Thursday.

Ernest Lamont Clark Jr was acquitted of one count of murder.

At 4:22 a.m. on March 1, South Bend Police responded to Liston Street for reports of shots fired.

When they arrived, they found Torres just inside the back door of the home with multiple gunshot wounds. He later died at the hospital.

Clark, Torres and Clark's sister were at the home at the time of the shooting. Clark's sister was dating Torres.

Clark said Torres had a big knife and was coming at him aggressively, so he shot Torres, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Clark's attorney released the following statement about the acquittal.

The evidence submitted at trial showed that on March 1, 2021, Elijah Torres committed domestic battery against Ernest Clark Junior’s sister. Ernest Clark Junior was awakened by the sound of his sister being assaulted by Mr. Torres around 4 AM. Mr. Torres then engaged Ernest Clark Junior in a fist fight after Ernest attempted to intervene on behalf of his sister. When Ernest Clark Junior disengaged from the fistfight, Mr. Torres proceeded to attack him with a broom, and then retrieved a large knife. Ernest Clark Junior locked himself in his bedroom in an effort to avoid further violence, but after that Mr. Torres renewed his domestic assault upon Ernest Clark Junior‘s sister. At that time Mr. Clark reasonably feared that Mr. Torres was attacking his sister with a deadly weapon, and only then did he resort to using deadly force. The jury determined that this force was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances known to Mr. Clark at the time. For that reason, he was not guilty under the laws of the state of Indiana as they relate to citizens’ rights to use force to defend oneself or others.


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