JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man facing the death penalty for allegedly killing his pregnant niece says he was approached by multiple jailhouse informants trying to secretly record him behind bars.
In jail calls obtained by First Coast News, Johnathan Quiles talks with family members about dealing with media attention, solitary confinement and jailhouse snitches.
Quiles is the uncle of former Terry Parker High School sophomore Iyana Sawyer. The 16-year-old was last seen leaving school Dec. 19, 2018. Prosecutors contend Quiles impregnated his niece and later killed her. Investigators searched a Westside landfill for weeks but failed to find her body.
Quiles is also charged with sexual battery on another female relative. He has pleaded not guilty to both sets of charges.
Quiles was back in court Wednesday after seeking indigence designation. His attorney told Judge Meredith Charbula he needed three or four weeks to go through some 22 discs of evidence. The state’s discovery filing also includes two wire recordings.
Quiles references attempts by inmates wearing wires to secretly record him in an April 2019 phone call with his brother.
“They already had two people already so far try to jump on my case,” he says. “One, in fact, showed me the wire.” Quiles said the man changed his mind about recording him because he didn’t believe Quiles was guilty.
“He says, ‘I know people that harm people, and I know killers and I know … you are not one. There’s no way. There’s just no way,’” Quiles recounts to his brother.
In another call with a female relative, Quiles says he got advice from a fellow inmate about avoiding media attention.
“He’s also extremely high profile. I actually remember him from seeing him on the news,” Quiles says. “The attorney can waive my appearance. Although I still have to come to the court, they won’t bring me out,” he says. “That’s just to stay off the camera. That’s one way to fight ‘em.”
At one point, Quiles’ brother asks how he liked being in solitary confinement when he was first arrested.
“It’s wonderful,” Quiles says. “I was able to walk barefooted on my floor, I had a clothesline -- I had everything in that room, bro,” he laughs.
Quiles’ brother, who has also been in jail, agrees. And he says he will continue to support Quiles and call him. “I don’t care what they say -- it’s my brother. At the end of the day no matter what happened, it doesn’t change the fact that this is my brother.”
Charbula set Quiles next court date for March 10.
RELATED: Body cam footage shows uncle of missing pregnant Terry Parker teen questioned about niece's disappearance, arrested
RELATED: State seeks death penalty for man accused of killing of 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer, unborn child
RELATED: Uncle charged with murder of missing pregnant Terry Parker High School teen, her unborn child: family attorney