Breaking News
More () »

Testimony about uncle's behavior, photos of discarded evidence on day 2 of Quiles trial

Johnathan Quiles is accused of murdering his 16-year-old niece Iyana Sawyer in 2018 after getting her pregnant. He could face the death penalty.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The death penalty trial of Johnathan Quiles continued into its second day of witness testimony in Jacksonville Friday. 

Quiles is accused of murdering his 16-year-old niece Iyana Sawyer in 2018 after getting her pregnant. Quiles pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and sexual battery charges. Sawyer's body was never found but investigators say Quiles killed her because she was pregnant with his child. 

Testifying for more than an hour Friday afternoon was Iyana Sawyer's sister. She confirmed her sister had a code name 'Jose' for her uncle and said she personally witnessed numerous instances of inappropriate contact between her sister and Quiles over a period of many months but never confronted him about his actions out of fear. 

“He would grope her in various areas or like kiss her neck or her lips in an inappropriate way,” Sawyers' sister told the courtroom. 

She said she knew, as early as July 2018 that her sister was pregnant with Quiles' baby but that was hid from the rest of her family for five months. She said she kept the information to herself to protect her relationship with her sister. 

Members of law enforcement and other family members of Sawyer testified Friday.  

The day began by reviewing the last surveillance images of Iyana Sawyer on the campus of Terry Parker High School before she was reported missing in December 2018. The school's safety officer, Olivia Harris says Sawyer was seen on camera sitting outside of the cafeteria talking to her sister. Then, just before 11a.m., Sawyer went north from the school cafeteria, exited a gate on the west end of the school near the bus ramp and was last seen on video walking north on Townsend Blvd. 

Defense Attorney: “Did you ever see her again after this video?" the defense attorney asked. 

"No," answered Terry Parker School Safety Officer Olivia Harris said. 

"Did she ever come back to school?" asked by the defense. 

"No," Harris said again. 

Sawyers' aunt Marjie Mobley says it was out of character for Sawyer not to go home after school so when she didn't return, family members went searching for her. Mobley says they went to the school but found nothing. Inside her bedroom, Mobley testified they noticed Victoria's Secret undergarments were missing, which concerned them. She says she knew Sawyer was pregnant and never knew who the father was but added there had been speculation of an inappropriate relationship between Jonathan Quiles and his niece. 

"There was speculation that, I don't know when it began, that she (Iyana Sawyer) had inappropriate relationships with Mr. Quiles," Sawyers' aunt Marjie Mobley said. "It was all brought up. Did we have actual evidence? No."

Mobley said both Sawyers' and Quiles were asked about any inappropriate relationships but both denied it. 

Mobley said the alias 'Jose' was used to refer to Quiles. She believed he was the father of Sawyers' baby. 

Next, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office photographer and former Crime Scene Detective Shannon Lillard described detectives 16 day search through the Otis Road landfill in Jacksonville. 

Lillard says detectives focused on looking for bones, a bag of women's clothing, and books. At the landfill, in the hundreds of tons of garbage searched, detectives found Victoria's Secret bras, underwear, a library book with a Terry Parker checkout sticker, and animal bones. Cadaver dogs alerted but did not find anything substantial. 

"There was not a lot of clothing, there was not a lot of things like that, it was construction trash," JSO Photographer Shannon Lillard said. 

Sawyers' remains were not found. Lillard said JSO ended the search on day 16 because of the amount of personnel dedicated to search. 

Lillard says Quiles' red Chrysler town and country minivan was also searched. Multiple brown stains were tested for blood, but all came back negative. 

“I smelled the carpet, smelled the seats for any signs of decomposition, odor, blood. To me it just smelled like motor oil, dirt and mildew," Lillard testified. 

The next witness to testify was UF Health Certified Nurse Midwife, Amanda Atchoo, who says she confirmed Sawyer was 22 weeks pregnant on December 13, 2018. She says she didn't see any signs of abuse on Sawyer but described her as 'quiet and timid'. She said Sawyer didn't tell her who the father was.

The trial will resume 9a.m. Monday morning and is expected to continue through next week. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out