A young woman, a girl, really--18 years old and with a year-old son--
needing help from the baby's father. An email pleading for assistance as she slept on a porch.
This woman and her son are now dead, left to wild animals.
As i approached the Riley County Courthouse yesterday, there was some strange spiral road inward in pondering murder. Thinking of a young person being murdered is sad beyond words. I grieve for two people I have never met. What is the story of these two?
Adding to the heaviness was the Death Penalty. The word "penalty" sits there like a taunt.
As i approached the courthouse the whole trial seemed like a quiet, gilded monstrous thing. so much sorrow. and to top it off, the state might say, Your Penalty is Death.
Do you support that penalty?
some of the testimony from yesterday's witnesses; then, thoughts on the penalty of Death.
After opening arguments, the prosecution brought in the first witness:
TLB, an engineer who on October 25th, 2009 was out and about exploring areas he regularly hunted for deer. He was in the area of land east of Ogden near the airport, on a dirt road between what would be soybean fields. There had been a light rain. TLB noticed what he thought were perhaps calf bones protruding from a shallow ditch. As he approached, he saw what he feared was a human hand. Picking a twig from a tree, he lightly lifted the appendage until he saw fingernails. He backed away and called 911. Wanting to preserve the scene, he did not drive away until released by the police.
The second witness was Sgt. Hensley of the RCPD. He indicated that of the dozens of reports of "human remains" the RCPD receives annually, most, if not all are animal remains. However in this case, after inspecting the scene, he immediately called for the Riley County CSI team.
The third witness was to testify regarding the exhumation of the bodies. Detective A Ratiger testified about tapping into the expertise of a variety of experts, e.g., KSU archaelogical expert Finny, a vegetation expert- Dr. Spencer Tombs, etc. He spoke of the need to identify the deceased; and the possibility of getting the dessicated hand to the KBI immediately. The scene was to be preserved overnight and the body exhumed at first light.
Witness four was Detective Sonia Gregoire of RCPD. After the right hand was severed it was preserved as per chain-of-evidence protocol; detective Gregoire delivered the hand to the KBI.
Witness five, KWO was a forensic scientist who testified as to the examination of the hand. After a month of burial, weathering, and animal molestation, three fingers were preserved, although they had to be rehydrated in potassium hydroxide. A search of state-wide and national databases resulted in a hit; the body was now idenitfied as Ms. Tanya Maldonado.
The next witness, Detective Steve Gregoire
testified regarding the 2 days of investigation around the gravesite. With local experts, a methodical excavation of the site was undertaken.
The sadness of a second body, a small child.
Witness 6, A Maddox tested the young child's rib, only obtaining partial DNA due to the decomposition. The phrase, "only partial DNA could be obtained" struck me with great sadness.
Witness 7, Dr. Elias, established the paternity and maternity of the young child, Juan Maldonado: the parents were the accused, Luis Aguirre, and the deceased woman, Tanya Maldonado.
Jeffery Hooper is the Captain of RCPD investigations and testified further regarding the ongoing investigation. After the woman's body was identified, detectives were sent to Chicago. This led to the knowlege that the accused had in fact, and in contradiction to his statements when interviewed, picked up Tanya in Chicago and brought her to Ogden Kansas. Information from the landlord in Ogden led to RCPD sending detectives to Austin Texas, where L. Aguirre was interviewed and eventually arrested.
Day two included testimony from the Aunt of the deceased, as well as testimony from a young woman D, with whom the accused was involved at the time of the murders. (Her son was in his care during that time period.)
During the afternoon testimony, which consisted of playing video tapes of the interviews with the accused in Austin, the Aunt of Tanya was in the courtroom and at times wept at the descriptions of the burial, of the various behaviors of the accused revealed in his own voice.
She seemed filled with the deepest ache of love. Can you imagine the death of your own niece? And her young child? If she is as she seemed: intelligent, sensitive, honorable--she will bear great pain and the weight of undeserved feelings of guilt or anxiety. Then over time her strengths, whatever they might be, will give her healing. Kahil Gibran: The more deeply sorrow carves into one's being, the more joy one can contain..."
The theory of the murders is that the accused murdered in order to "clear a path" for a relationship with D. How well could you live with the heaviness of that? All good thoughts and prayers to the families invovled.
The interview tapes displayed the ever-changing story of the accused as detectives slowly fed him information. His description of the sequence of events changed as he tried to incorporate new details the detectives gave him.
I will save the discussion of the Death Penalty for later...
Day three here.
|Mother with baby|