Man sentenced to life for Apple Four Points employee shooting death

Jerry Paul Lee December 18, 1959 – November 6, 2020

Alberto Torres Austin Police Department booking photo.

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

A suspect was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of Jerry Lee, who was killed in 2020 while working as a car salesman at the former Apple Four Points sales office at RM 2222 near RM 620.

On January 12, a jury convicted Alberto Torres, 33, in the case and State District Judge Brad Urrutia sentenced Torres to life in prison without parole, according to reports. Torres’ alleged accomplice, Modesto Hernandez, also faces a capital murder charge and his trial is upcoming.

Lee, 60, was shot to death just after 5 p.m. on November 6, 2020 while helping customers who were looking at a Lincoln Navigator at the small, locally owned dealership that used to be at 11320 RM 2222, near H-E-B and Bank of America. 

Lee had gotten the key for the Navigator and then sat in the vehicle with Torres.

They were after a 2019 Lincoln Navigator with about 10,000 miles on it, said Scott Crossett, president of Apple Leasing.

Ron Kramer, who was the Apple Four Points finance director, was working with Lee that Friday night. He noticed the two men appeared to be “fighting over the keys” while in the Navigator.

Torres began punching Lee, according to a report by the Austin American-Statesman. “As Torres hit Lee, Hernandez began putting items into the back of the Navigator, the surveillance video shows.” 

It was brought out during the trial that Lee got away but dropped his phone and went back for it. Torres walks toward him, and Lee falls to the ground, skidding out of view of the video, after grabbing his phone. Torres then aims the gun at Lee and fires, killing him, the Statesman’s report said. 

“I thought he had a pistol,” Torres testified through a translator. He claims he didn’t know what Lee was reaching for and that he shot Lee “so he wouldn’t escape.”

According to the Statesman, Prosecutor David Levingston said during trial,”You shot and killed a man that was on the ground, and you put a bullet through his back.” 

Kramer called 9-1-1 and ran out of the office with a gun and shot Torres twice. Torres then ran toward Kramer, who retreated back into the office.

At some point Hernandez retrieved a gun from Torres’ car and handed it to Torres. 

Not long after that, Austin Police Department officers arrived on scene. They located two men with gunshot wounds and detained Hernandez.

“Police and paramedics tried to save Jerry, but all attempts failed. He was killed while trying to earn an honest living by men who were trying to steal what they hadn’t worked for, and they were willing to hurt and kill in order to do so,” stated Kramer, who created a GoFundMe account “Jerry Lee Crime Victim Fund” for Lee’s family. 

APD homicide investigators and crime scene personnel processed the scene and spoke with suspect Hernandez. “In the course of that conversation, detectives learned that he and Alberto Torres went to the dealership with the intention of stealing a car. During that attempt, a gun fight ensued between Torres and the manager of the dealership. The manager shot Torres multiple times. Torres shot Jerry Lee, a dealership employee.”

Kramer had a license to carry his gun, APD said.

Austin-Travis County EMS transported Torres to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries. 

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Lee’s manner of death homicide as a result of gunshot wounds. 

By November 9, Torres and Hernandez were arrested and each with a bond of one million dollars, according to APD.

“Two bad guys picked our place out of clear blue to steal a car,” Crossett said after the crime happened.

Lee’s obituary gives a glimpse of the kind of man he was.

Lee started a career in the auto industry in the early 1980’s in Austin and over the years, he held many roles in the auto industry that included finance, sales, and management. He worked at Apple for close to three years. 

Lee’s family described him as “an incredible person, stepfather, grandfather, father and husband.”  

He loved golf and would “send daily Bible verses to his family and friends as inspiration and support.”

“(Lee) always put a smile on the faces of those around him with his contagious happiness, joy for life, and outgoing nature,” Kramer shared after the crime. “His sense of calm, combined with his infectious kindness made anything bad you were going through fade away.”

“Lee loved with his whole heart, never met a stranger, had the most contagious laugh, and he made everyone around him feel special. He would spend hours talking about anything that his friends and family had on their mind,” according to his obituary.

Kramer remembered that Lee was a man who was kind to everyone and always treated strangers like they were friends and family. “He was murdered by strangers who he would have likely helped had they asked him.”