By Ramon Antonio Vargas The Advocate
NEW ORLEANS — U.S. Marshals on Thursday captured a man accused of a 2015 killing in New Orleans East, prompting the suspect to threaten to murder police and boast about how easy it would be for him to defeat the local criminal justice system, according to officials.
Torrel Knox, 25, faces counts of second-degree murder, public intimidation, and illegal gun possession following his arrest at his mother’s home in the 4600 block of Francis Drive. He faces mandatory life imprisonment if eventually convicted of those crimes.
After being placed in the back of a police cruiser, Knox said it would take one phone call to his friends for them to kill all of the detectives. He allegedly said the agents who came to arrest him would all be in “a body bag” if they hadn’t caught him at his mother’s home.
Authorities also booked his mother, 45-year-old Shantrell Knox, on an outstanding warrant from Texas as well as on allegations that she used her home to hide her son from the law.
The legal saga centering on Torrel Knox dates back to June 3, 2015, when 21-year-old Brandon Sorapuru was killed after being shot in the chest just down the street from Shantrell Knox’s home.
People who witnessed Sorapuru’s slaying told police it occurred during a fight, and the victim was a bystander, authorities wrote in documents filed in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
One witness singled out Knox as being “a main participant” in the fight that led to Sorapuru’s shooting, and the witness said Knox was seen fleeing the scene of the killing with a gun in tow, according to police.
Police said they later searched Knox’s mother’s home and found the suspected murder weapon. It had allegedly been wrapped in a towel linked to Knox through the results of a DNA test.
Investigators had obtained a warrant to arrest Knox by Nov. 3, 2015, but they said he had already fled New Orleans by then.
A U.S. Marshals task force was staking out Shantrell Knox’s place on Thursday morning when her son stepped out of a car and walked to the front door of the home. Detective Thomas Ricks then approached Torrel Knox, arrested him, and found a concealed pistol on him, even though he had previously been convicted of a felony prohibiting him from possessing firearms.
In addition to threatening detectives, Knox also said he would get out of jail soon because the court “system is broke,” according to court records. He said he had a friend who would pay for him to get a good attorney and “had judges in his corner.”
Knox remained behind bars Friday in lieu of $411,000 bond.
Meanwhile, Knox’s mother allegedly told police he had been occasionally visiting but was trying to convince him to surrender. They booked her with being an accessory after the fact to murder as well as on a warrant accusing her of forgery in the area of Fort Worth, Texas.
Sorapuru’s killing is not the first blamed on Knox, court records show. He pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in 2011 and was in prison until 2013, court records show.
Records show he has also previously been convicted of aggravated battery, simple criminal damage and illegal carrying of a weapon.
At one point, authorities had arrested and charged another man named Robert Mitchell in Sorapuru’s slaying. But in March, prosecutors dropped their case against Mitchell, now 22.