Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Luis Aguirre Murder Trial--Manhattan Ks (#2)

      Day one opening statements: post 1 click Here.  
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.

Do you support the Death Penalty?

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?
[According to Tanya's Aunt Tanya's mother is fighting Stage 3 colon cancer.
Her aunt has only sons, and has loved Tanya as a daughter.
 Her aunt indicates, and we could discern from the emails read in court, that this very young woman worked very hard to make a life for herself and her son. 
I admire the tenacity i heard in her voice as the emails were shared in court. It must be very very hard on the family that the trial is so far from home. But this trial is about Luis Aguirre. There is no need for anyone to endure the anxiety or hardship of coming to witness his shame.]
There is also the horror of a person finding what is needed inside to commit that ultimate crime. What is needed for a father to kill his son? A human gives away the humanity of his soul in order to serve what? Selfishness? Greed? Fear? Lust? It seems impossible. What is the story of a man who moves this way? Does one need to kill oneself inside before killing another?

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.

By the way,
 the cross-examinations were short and perfunctory;

"you are not certified in this (one of twenty) areas, are you?? hmmm?"
There was no fire and brimstone, no
Pedro Irigonegaray adrenaline to keep one awake.

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
Closing statements: HERE


  1. Tanya's mother was unable to attend as she is fighting Stage 3 Colon Cancer. Tanya's father is in prison for crime's he committed when Tanya was small child. I was her aunt, I Loved her as if she were my own daughter; I only have sons. She was a typical teenager, yet she appreciated the simple things in life, but she had very limited resources. She planned on returning to school and learning a trade so she would be able to support herself and her son. External factors seems to attack her circumstances and made things really difficult for her. She was a proud woman, as even though she knew she could come back to live with me, she never did. She never even asked. God knows I would've helped her. I pray that she arrived in the Gates of Heaven holding her baby and felt no more pain. I love you Tanya. Sylvia

    1. Her strength is shown in court as she was doing the right thing by her baby. You must miss her terribly. Rest in Peace, Tanya and Juan.

  2. Patricia MaldonadoJune 21, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I wish people could understand that my family doesn't have money to go to the trial we wish we could. I have three kids under 5 & my mother is sick she's trying to fight cancer I wish people would not think that we don't care we do I cry morning n nite wishing I could just hold them & tell them I love them. R.I.P Tanya & Juan

    1. We do understand. It is better to stay with your children, love them, and remember your Tanya and Juan, now at peace. Wishing you Peace.

  3. It is entirely understandable that Tanya's family and friends will not come to this trial. The ultimate justice for these crimes is in the hands of the Almightly. There is no doubt in my mind that there are people and family who love Tanya and Juan. With your permission, i would like to print these comments in the body of my blog posts. My prayers and best wishes are sent to you.

    1. That would be Greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  4. There is no blame for loving family members who cannot attend. All of us who care pray for you and our hearts ache for you. We are here for you as your witness.

  5. Have no concern to be here. Tanya is not here. Juan is not here. They are there with you in your heart. The only thing here is state justice for the one who is a liar. It is good to stay there all together your family. Peace to you and blessings. It is better not to see him. If he were a man he would stand and tell the truth. Since he is not a man do not bother to look on him or listen to this. Find others around you who have lost the babies they love. Share and talk. Heal will come.

  6. Still deeply moved by this case as I was one of the jurors...and truth be told, I think of Tanya and Juan frequently, trying to understand and yet knowing I never will. Though I pray when my time on earth has ended I will embrace her and Juan.

    1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful thought.
      It must have been excruciating to sit as a juror for this case. I would love to hear more from you about the experience.

  7. Thank You for your kind words and empathy. Every time I drive by the neighborhood that Luis Aguirre lived, I Mourn for Tanya. I work in that area and it's getting easier, but it'll never stop hurting. Rest in Peace my beautiful niece/daughter Tanya. Sylvia Ortiz

    1. Blessings to you. You have a special guardian now.

  8. I went to school with Tanya and she was a great girl, troubled like most of us but she never backed down. I saw the kind of family she had and trust me it wasn't no fairy tale story. At least she is somewhere were she will no longer suffer under the debt of her family and will be with her son.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, heaven awaits those who want it...