Jury Rejects Claim that Man Killed Transvestite in Heat of Passion
[PATERSON, NJ] - A jury on Tuesday rejected a Paterson man's claim that he killed a transvestite in the heat of passion, finding him guilty of knowing, purposeful murder.
Carlos Camacho, 20, had no visible reaction as the guilty verdicts to murder and weapons offenses were read in state Superior Court in Paterson. The jury deliberated for about four hours in the case, which began last week.
Camacho told police that on Feb. 25, 2001, he was walking on Paterson's Slater Street when a woman drove by and offered him $20
for sex. He said when he got back to the woman's apartment, he learned that she was a man - 42-year-old Victor Pachas.
Camacho beat, stabbed, slashed, and asphyxiated Pachas by stepping on his throat. The killing was so brutal that the Genessee Avenue apartment was splattered with blood and police could not tell
initially how Pachas died.
Camacho's lawyer argued that his client became so enraged after learning he had picked up a transvestite, he reacted with fear and revulsion.
John Latoracca, Passaic County chief assistant prosecutor, said the evidence indicated that Camacho had been the one acting as a prostitute that night. The victim's clothing was in the bedroom, and
the defendant's brand of cigarettes were found on the nightstand.
Latoracca argued that Camacho attacked as part of a plan to steal from the victim. He said Camacho's sister told police she saw the defendant with a woman's change purse the next day.
A passion-provocation man-slaughter conviction carries a five- to 10-year prison term. The jury would have had to believe that Camacho acted in the heat of passion from a reasonable provocation.
Now, Camacho faces at least 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
After the verdicts were read, Latoracca said he thought the jury just didn't buy Camacho's story. He pointed to one part of Camacho's police statement, where he said he stepped on the victim's throat fearing that his cries for help would be heard. "That is a very rational thought for someone who supposedly has lost all touch with rational thought," Latoracca said.