Man found guilty of killing his 16-year-old niece after getting her pregnant

The state intends to seek the death penalty for Johnathan Quiles, 38, after jury’s 60-minute deliberation

Graig Graziosi
Friday 22 September 2023 13:01 EDT

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A man in Jacksonville accused of impregnating and then killing his teenage niece has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

In addition, Johnathan Quiles, 38, was found guilty of sexual battery and the murder of the teen's unborn child after the Florida jury deliberated for about an hour.

Iyana Sawyer was 16-years-old when she disappeared in 2018. Though her body has never been found, a jury has concluded that Quiles killed her and her unborn child sometime in December of that year, according to PEOPLE.

Ms Sawyer was last seen on 19 December, 2018. She left her high school during her lunch period and traveled to a junkyard where Quiles was working at the time, according to News4JAX.

Police believe Quiles killed the girl, put her body in a dumpster and hid or destroyed it at a landfill.

Quiles' attorneys argued that the girl was likely still alive and tried to bar the prosecutors from using the word "victim" to describe Ms Sawyer.

However, after six days of prosecutors piling evidence onto Quiles — including other family members testifying to him sexually assaulting and inappropriately messaging them — the jury passed a guilty verdict.

The prosecutors' star witness was Quiles' own brother, Joseph, who says Quiles told him that he murdered the girl and disposed of her body.

Johnathan Quiles, 38, was found guilty of murdering his 16-year-old niece in 2018 after he impregnated her

“He said he took the young lady and had her sitting in a vehicle, waiting, he tried to strangle her, it didn’t work out, he couldn’t stomach it, so he shot her in the chest. And he put the body, transporting it in a dumpster, and destroying the vehicle,” Joseph Quiles said.

Quiles was reportedly afraid he would be alienated from his family if the girl gave birth to their child.

The state wants to see Quiles sentenced to death. The jury will reconvene on Monday to begin the sentencing phase.

Ms Sawyers' family members said they were pleased with the verdict.

“Today, a nearly 5-year nightmare ends with another measure of justice,” said John Phillips, an attorney representing the family. “We thank the jury, law enforcement and judge, as well as all of our friends and family who reached out when we needed it most. Johnathan Quiles has now been found guilty of murder and will go back before a jury to determine his fate on earth, but he chose to end Iyana’s young life. He was a predator and the jury saw that with ease. We are grateful. Please keep our family in your prayers. Thank you from the family of Iyana Sawyer.”

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