‘Would I have to be dead?’: Domestic violence victim questions DA plea deal that gave attacker no jail time

Nicholas Pender given one year of probation as part of November plea deal in misdemeanor assault case

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio woman severely beaten by her boyfriend inside his East Side apartment said she has been let down by the criminal justice system after her attacker was given a plea deal that included no jail time.

“I don’t think probation was enough. I wanted him to be in jail because he fractured right here, he fractured right here. I don’t know what it would take for somebody to go to jail. Would I have to be dead? Because my injuries were really bad,” said Bianca Torrez, pointing out the two facial fractures she suffered during the Easter weekend attack.

WARNING: Graphic pictures below

Torrez said an April 9 argument with her then-boyfriend, Nicholas Pender, escalated inside his apartment along Interstate 35.

Pender, according to San Antonio police and court records, grabbed a dog leash resembling a rope and began striking Torrez with it.

The man kicked Torrez after she went to the ground, and according to Torrez, choked her at one point during a beating that she estimates lasted about 30 minutes.

“I was telling him to ‘stop, stop.’ And he was like ‘the more you go the worse it’s going to be.’ So, like, I just gave up and I was just taking it,” said Torrez, who reported the assault to SAPD days later.

Pictures of Torrez’s injuries she shared with KSAT show contusions covering much of her backside, heavy bruising to her arms, swelling on her face and red marks and bruising on her neck.

Torrez, who said she at first hesitated to pursue assault charges against her now ex-boyfriend, eventually agreed to cooperate with police and prosecutors.

Despite the severity of Torrez’s injuries, which included two facial fractures, Pender in May was charged with misdemeanor family assault.

Torrez, who told KSAT she missed three weeks of school and work because of her injuries, stated she repeatedly informed the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office that she wanted Pender to serve jail time for the attack.

Pictures show Bianca Torrez's injuries after she was attacked by her boyfriend in April 2023. (KSAT)

“I told them ‘I want him to go to prison,’” Torrez said.

Pender, a first-time offender, was instead given one year of probation and $1,365 in fines and court costs in exchange for pleading no contest to the misdemeanor offense in November.

“He’s still walking around these streets, living his life,” Torrez said.

Pender is scheduled to remain on probation through mid-November of this year.

Nicholas Pender was arrested weeks after the assault at his East Side apartment. (KSAT)

His attorney declined to comment on the plea deal when reached for comment.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales released a lengthy statement on the decision to charge Pender with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The charge against defendant Nicholas Pender was filed by the investigating law enforcement agency as a misdemeanor. It was prosecuted as charged because the evidence was sufficient to prove ‘bodily injury,’ which is defined under the relevant statute as ‘physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.’ For a case to be elevated from a misdemeanor family violence assault to a felony level offense, certain conditions must be met. These include a prior family violence conviction, evidence of strangulation, a second assault within a year, use or exhibition of a deadly weapon, or evidence of ‘serious bodily injury,’ which is defined as a bodily injury that creates ‘a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.’ The case was reviewed by several family violence prosecutors who determined that none of these conditions were present in this case. Therefore, the prosecutors determined that there was insufficient evidence to elevate the case to a felony and that the charges recommended by law enforcement were appropriate. A conviction was obtained and the offender was held accountable within six months of the date of the assault.

Gonzales’ written statement inaccurately stated that Pender’s conviction came within six months of the assault. The Nov. 16 conviction came more than seven months after the April 9 assault.

Find resources for victims of domestic violence here.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.

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