Hammond home invasion co-defendant may get plea deal dropped after failure to testify: records

A co-defendant in a Hammond home invasion case may get his plea deal dropped after he failed to show in court from jail Thursday.

Garrett Whittenburg, 41, formerly of Chicago, also refused to testify at co-defendant Valentine Torrez’s trial earlier this month. That was required by his agreement, documents show. He declined to give a deposition in March.

He was originally charged with nearly a dozen felonies, including rape and criminal confinement.

Deputy Prosecutor Arturo Balcazar asked Judge Natalie Bokota to withdraw his plea. She took it under advisement.

The hearing is rescheduled for May 30.

Bokota granted a motion by defense lawyer Aaron Koonce Thursday for another mental competency evaluation.

Court records allege Torrez and Whittenburg planned the home invasion together to rob the woman, Torrez’s relative, and sexually assault her.

Torrez was convicted in a split verdict April 4 of rape, child molesting, and criminal confinement. His sentencing is next month.

The woman told police Torrez showed up Nov. 13, 2021, looking for “something to drink,” charges state. Five minutes later, another man walked into her house. One had a gun and was wearing a white sweatshirt, mask and gloves, according to court documents.

“You don’t have to do this,” Torrez said. “Take whatever you want.”

Torrez later identified the man as Whittenburg, court documents said. He told police he was ordered to tie up the 12-year-old girl, who had been asleep on a sofa. When he refused, the second man covered the girl’s head and took her to her bedroom, according to charges.

The woman told police her face was covered with a ski mask and head in a towel before she was sexually assaulted “repeatedly.” She felt two sets of hands while being assaulted, she said. One of the men patted the woman on her shoulder, saying she wouldn’t get hurt, according to the affidavit.

A second man molested the girl in her bedroom while she was blindfolded, the child told police, court documents said.

The woman said Whittenburg and the other man took her iPhone and debit card before leaving, charges state. The woman and child were later examined at a hospital.

Torrez claimed he was just at the house. He was later charged after DNA tied him to the woman and her daughter’s assaults.

The DNA hit matched “Valentino Torres,” which investigators said matched Valentine Torrez in police databases, according to charges.