Jail informant audio could be heard Monday in trial of man accused of impregnating, killing 16-year-old niece

Day 3 of testimony Monday in the trial of a Jacksonville man accused of impregnating and killing his niece in 2018 could feature a two-hour-long audio recording from a jailhouse informant.

Johnathan Quiles, 38, was indicted for the first-degree murder of his niece, 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer, and her unborn baby, believed to be his child, in addition to having sex with a minor because Sawyer was only a teenager at the time.

Quiles’ defense is arguing that prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Quiles murdered his niece, or that she is dead at all — because her body has never been found. Quiles was married to Sawyer’s aunt and they are not biologically related.

As testimony continues Monday, jurors could hear from the jailhouse informant, a firearms expert, and possibly even Quiles’ own brother. Detectives believe that after killing the teen, Quiles admitted it to his brother.

Teen’s family testifies

Last week, several of Sawyer’s family members took the stand, including her mother, her grandmother, her aunt and her sister.

Sawyer’s mother, Kimberly Mobley, testified about her daughter’s pregnancy, Sawyer’s relationship with her uncle and her disappearance.

Mobley said the unborn child was a girl and her name was going to be “Hazel Michelle Mobley.” She said she found out Sawyer was pregnant just 16 days before she was reported missing.

During cross-examination, the defense had witnesses admit Sawyer never told anyone Quiles was the father. But Mobley said her daughter told her someone named “Jose” was the father.

Sawyer’s sister, who took the stand late Friday afternoon, testified that her sister was in love with Quiles and that he was “Jose.”

RELATED: Sister of Iyana Sawyer says she knew about relationship between sister, accused killer but kept it a secret

Her sister described the inappropriate touching, kissing and sexual encounters she said she witnessed between Quiles and Sawyer. She said she kept the secret about her sister and Quiles for at least two years to keep a good relationship with her sister.

She said she wanted to protect her and got emotional talking about her last interactions with her sister.

Sawyer’s sister said Sawyer and Quiles’ wife, who is their aunt, were both pregnant by Quiles at the same time and that Quiles wanted Sawyer to get an abortion. Sawyer refused, her sister said.

She also testified that Quiles gave her sister pills to try to prevent the pregnancy.

Sawyers’s grandmother testified that during Thanksgiving 2018, she saw Quiles intimately hugging Sawyer.

“He was hugged up, full embrace, when they seen me it startled him…Not a hug an uncle would give,” Winella Haynes recalled.

Haynes said she told Mobley to not let Quiles around her kids and to her knowledge she did that.

One of Sawyer’s close friends said the day Sawyer went missing, she told them she’d be going to stay with Quiles for two weeks.

‘I control what gets dumped’

A former CSI detective and former K-9 officer testified last week about a 16-day search at the Otis Road Landfill that turned up items related to the case, but no human remains.

Among statements prosecutors say Quiles made about the murder:

“I have to get rid of the body.”

“The dumpster is at my job. I control what gets dumped.”

“The girl might be pregnant.”

“I can’t lose my family.”

“They’re going to give me the needle.”

State Attorney Cameron French told the jury they would hear those statements from Quiles’ own voice and through his brother.

RELATED: Prosecutors say Jacksonville man accused of impregnating, killing niece made incriminating statements to brother

The defense told the jury that the state can’t prove that Quiles was indeed the father of the unborn child, Sawyer’s body has not been found and there is no blood or crime scene. They said that DNA evidence that will be presented by prosecutors does not prove Quiles is the killer.

Disappearance and investigation

It has been almost five years since Sawyer disappeared. On Dec. 19, 2018, Sawyer was seen on surveillance video at Terry Parker High School. She was never seen again, and no trace of her has been found.

Court records reveal Sawyer was on her way to Quiles’ job at a salvage yard on the north side the day she vanished.

RELATED: Jury selected in trial of man accused of impregnating, murdering teen niece

Police believe Sawyer, who was five months pregnant at the time, was shot and killed, then placed into a dumpster and taken to the Otis Road Landfill. Investigators looked through more than 5,000 tons of trash but never found her remains.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Quiles could face the death penalty if he’s convicted of Sawyer’s murder. A new 2023 ruling now allows a death sentence with only an 8 to 4 vote by the jury instead of the 12 to 0 previously needed.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.