Friday, June 22, 2012

Manhattan Kansas Murder Trial of Luis Aguirre Day Five: Defense Rests. Closing Statements (Updated)

The Jury is in Deliberations. The trial opened today with these words: Your Honor, the Defense rests. So the defense did not put on witnesses or provide any testimony or evidence.
Just before the Court came into session, Luis Aguirre turned toward the back of the small courtroom and was grinning/laughing with some acquaintances or family members who came today and were sitting behind him: just next to me: an older man and three young women. This was a surreal moment as the accused had not to this point turned all the way around in the courtroom. His joviality seemed surreal. One of the women wore a camisole top which exposed some very colorful tattoos. I wonder if the man was the father of Luis Aguirre, for whom I've been told little Juan was named.

The judge gave the jury their instructions: "It is my duty to instruct you..." Judge Wilson reads the detailed instructions to the jury. They are to use their [combined 500] years of life experience to consider and weigh the evidence. The jury gets to decide how much weight and credence to give any piece of the evidence. (I always wish this was emphasized nationally more in sexual assault trials; that a sexual assault victim's testimony may be given great weight and perhaps result in more convictions)
The Jurors are meant to use common sense and life experience.

The charge of Capital Murder means that
  • it was premeditated
  • it was intentional
  • the multiple murders were part of a common scheme or plan
If they do not all agree on that charge, they can find the defendant guilty of 1st degree murder, which is

  • Intentional
  • Premeditated
If they do not agree unanimously on that charge, they can consider, down the ladder of seriousness, 2nd degree intentional murder, 2nd degree unintentional murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Involuntary manslaughter, and Not Guilty. These charges include instances where death occurs but may be due to a moment of passion, willful recklessness, recklessness, complete accident, etc. 
If the jury does not find the accused guilty of Capital Murder, in which the two crimes are linked, they will need to determine a finding for each of the deceased separately.
At 9:30 the prosecution began its closing statement, which ended around 10:30. Barry Disney first validated the jury's probable anxiety. Those sorts of feelings are normal.
He told the jury he had heard the phrase,
A Verdict  =  "The Law plus Credible Facts"
told the jury he would show why Luis' statements deserved NO weight or credibility. He proceeded to tell the jury instance after instance of inconsistency and lies in the interview statements of the accused. He amplified the idea we have discussed here that Luis A. only admitted things when he had to, that his story changed over and over as needed. One of the points mentioned to show premeditation was how Luis picked Tanya and Juan up in the middle of the night from her the Olive Branch Mission, and kept his face hidden and his back to the door as she came out with her luggage-- A small piece of evidence but there were many of these small pieces. Disney mentioned the evidence that showed a plan on his part. For example, Luis A. sent Tanya emails about her going to California after he had already buried her body. "Who were they written for?" asked Barry Disney. (Obviously, for anyone looking to find out what had happened to her, to throw them off of his track.)
Mr. Disney emphasized the lies of the accused. [One witness, Luis' National Guard supervisor, Sgt. 1st class Brian Spencer, testified regarding Luis' responsibilites and whereabouts per his national guard service. He was asked a series of direct, yes or no questions: e.g., Was Luis Aguirre ever sent to South Korea? Was he ever active military/ Was he ever stationed in North Carolina? No. No. No. This in direct contradiction to Luis' statements to Tanya through numerous emails as to why he could not visit his son or assist in his support. The lies were ubiquitous.
Video of Luis Aguirre in the Courtroom
and detailed testimony -story from Lindsey Rogers at WIBW click HERE

Barry Disney used a technique known in Cognitive Psychology as useful for thinking, remembering, categorizing: Tell people what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you just told them. This is a good way to study and learn. For the jury, it emphasized that the murders were purposeful, that there was motive, that there was a plan, that the two murders were linked, that Luis Aguirre's testimony was so pocked with little lies, big lies, simple lies, complicated lies--that he was not to be believed.
Bits of video totalling 11 minutes were used throughout the Prosecution's closing.
Those friends/family of the accused who had joined the courtroom became very fidgety during the closing and as the details of the deaths and burial were reiterated, they began to weep.

Closing statement: The defense re-read some emails that they say indicated concern from the defendant. They tried to intimate that there was some recklessness, some passion involved in these deaths. They never really specified how. They stated that he had shown remorse, although i am not sure how other than their contention that the placement of the bodies indicated such.

Barry Wilkerson had the last word, just a few minutes to review key points and ask the jurors to grant the State's request for Capital Murder.

 I head back downtown to wait to see if the verdict will come in this afternoon. My best guess is the jury will come back at 4:30. Maybe not.
 -----[the jury came back around 3. Guilty of Capital Murder. Sentencing: July 9th.]

Day One click HERE
Day two: HERE

Rest in Peace, Tanya and Juan Maldonado.


  1. R.I.P. Tanya & Juan. My tears of pain will never stop flowing. But my tears of joy knowing that you're no longer suffering & in heaven give me peace & solace. You will Never be Forgotten, EVER.

  2. Patricia Maldonado (Tanya's sister)June 22, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    When Tanya was pregnant with Juan she used to send me& our sister Michelle to the store to get her pickles like five times a day. She had to have her pickles & when she was pregnant she use to hate to come by my house cause everytime Juan heard my voice he'd kick her so hard and she'd get mad & tell me to get away, lol. And when Juan was born I went to see her at the hospital; she was so happy that she was a mom. She couldn't put Juan down for nothing. When she'd visit me Juan was always so happy. When he started to crawl there was no stopping him; when he started to walk my son Jr would walk around the house holding his hands getting into more trouble! Me & Tanya didn't care cause they were having fun! I miss those days. There are so many more memories but I'd rather keep them to my self so I can smile from inside & out thinking about them.

  3. mindy (Tanyas sister)June 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I remeber when she use to come to my house and just sit and leason to music with me while juan played with his cusins. I miss them so much......I love u Tanya and Juan...REST IN PEACE..............................

  4. Replies
    1. im happy he got life mother fuker gonna suffer in there!!!!!

  5. Sylvia Ortiz-Tanyas AuntJune 22, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Thank You Jesus!!!! Amen!!!! Justice was Served for Tanya.....Now the Sentencing Phase. God is Good and Sees ALL!!

  6. R.I.P Tanya and Juan I only wish things could have been different, that our lives could have taken us on different paths and maybe things would be different. I never knew you personally but I feel like I have come to know you. May you rest in peace and just know that you, Juan, and your family will always been in my prayers you will not be forgotten.

    1. Dulce--I cannot begin to imagine the heavy feelings you must be experiencing. I once read, "when you are going through hell, Keep going". Time and grace heal. Thank you for posting.

  7. Sylvia Ortiz-Tanyas AuntJune 25, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Thank you Dulce for your kind words. After having met you, I sensed the great sorrow and guilt that you felt over everything that happened. Just know that our family Doesn't blame you for Any of this. This was 100% the fault of Luis Aguirre. You were just a victim of circumstance. May God continue to light the way for you and your family to overcome this horrible experience. God bless your family, and your baby, I'm grateful to God that he didn't fall victim to this monster and pray that he may not have any memories of what happened. The best revenge that you can repay Luis is by moving on with your life and be Happy. He'll [Luis] have the rest of his dying days knowing that the evil acts he did was all for nothing.