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Beaumont officers, family of Sheena Yarbrough-Powell prepare for 'painful' trial after guilty plea withdrawal

Luis Torres was set to be sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Beaumont Police and family of Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell are preparing for what they believe will be a painful trial after the man accused of her death withdrew his guilty plea.

Luis Torres 20, of Port Arthur, was set to be sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter. Torres is accused of driving drunk and hitting Officer Yarbrough-Powell and her partner, Officer Gabriel Fells, on August 9, 2020 on Cardinal Drive.

Yarbrough-Powell died at the scene and her partner was seriously injured. Officer Yarbrough-Powell was 23 when she died, and Torres was 18 when the crash took place.

Credit: KBMT
Beaumont Police officer Sheena Yarbrough Powell, 23, became the 18th Beaumont officer killed in the line of duty when she died early Sunday morning in a head-on wreck with a wrong-way driver.

Torres has been in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility since the wreck happened. He is being held on a $1 million bond, according to jail records.

Torres plead guilty in April. On Monday, Judge John Stevens asked Torres if he “wished to withdraw” his plea.

“Yes, your honor,” Torres said.

The reason for the withdrawal is unclear.

Related: Legal expert says defense will try to convince jury intoxication was not a factor in crash that killed Beaumont officer

Family of both Yarbrough-Powell and Torres gathered outside Judge John Steven’s courtroom seeking closure. Now, they are preparing for the pain of a trial.

“Of course we are all hurting including her family,” Officer Haley Morrow with the Beaumont Police Department said. “The police department, we were hoping to close that chapter and move on. Unfortunately, we will be sitting through a trial. But that is the right of the defendant. We hate that we are going to go through that. We hate that we are going to live the painful testimonies.”

Last week, family of fallen officers gathered at the steps of the Beaumont Police Department to honor loved ones they lost. Included in those lost loved ones was Yarbrough-Powell.

Credit: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Luis Torres

"I'm very thankful for the department,” Michael Powell said in a previous interview with 12New. “They've been nothing but amazing to me, and Sheena's family. We call them our police family. Sheena was a very loved member, and they are hurting and broken just like we are.”

Torres’ trial has been scheduled for July 18, 2022.

If Torres had plead guilty today, his sentence would have ranged from five to 30 years. If he is found guilty by a jury in July, he could face anything from probation to life behind bars.

"Of course everyone has been hurting since August 2020 when Sheena left us," Morrow said. "But when we have to come face to face with the events of that day, it's very difficult especially for their family, they miss her every single day. Beaumont Police Department is going to stand by their side and keep their memory alive.”

This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

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