9 of Clubs Cold Case Card Leads to Murder Arrest, Conviction

A 9 of clubs in a deck of the state's cold case playing cards was the key to solving the 2006 murder of a 20-year-old shot in front of Hartford's Bulkeley High School, leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Hector Torres, 27, pleaded guilty Friday in Hartford Superior Court to murdering Derrick Comrie, 20 and took a plea deal.

Torres is suspected of gunning down Comrie on Jan. 10, 2006 after a basketball game at the high school in Hartford, according to the arrest warrant.

Investigators received a tip through the cold case playing cards that led to his arrest, according to the state's criminal justice division. The cards had been distributed to inmates in state correctional institutions and had information printed on them about unsolved homicide and missing persons cases as well as the photos of the people killed or missing, according to a news release from the division.

The playing cards were the brainchild of the Department of Correction and the Office of the Chief State's Attorney's cold case unit.

Judge Joan Alexander scheduled Torres's sentencing for July 9, when he will also be sentenced for murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges for critically injuring Luis "Berto" Benitez, 28, in an early morning attack on Dec. 7, 2009 outside a convenience store on New Britain Avenue in Hartford. Benitez died of his injuries on March 14, 2010.

Torres's plea agreement includes a sentence of 30 to 38 years in prison for all charges, according to the criminal justice division.

The state's attorney's office for the Hartford judicial district is prosecuting both cases.

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