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Mireles expected to take stand today

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, at 12:06 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at 1:48 p.m.

TwitterEagle courts reporter Ron Sylvester has been sending ultra-brief updates from the courtroom today via Twitter. To get the latest updates, refresh or reload this story in your browser.

    EL DORADO — Israel Mireles is expected to take the stand in his own defense today.

    But in claiming another man came to his motel room and killed Emily Sander, Mireles will need to explain how a knife with Sander's blood on it ended up at the Baxter Springs house his girlfriend was staying in about 150 miles away.

    Mireles, 26, is charged with capital murder, rape and aggravated sodomy in the November 2007 death of Sander, an 18-year-old Butler Community College student.

    Lisa Burdett, a forensic scientist with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, testified Thursday that Sander's blood was on the blade of the knife found in a trash bin in a Baxter Springs house.

    When she tested the DNA profile in the blood, it matched Sander, whose body was found in a ditch by U.S. 54 about 59 miles from El Dorado, a little less than halfway to Baxter Springs.

    Mireles said he picked up his girlfriend, Victoria Martens, at her grandmother's house in Baxter Springs. They ended up driving to Texas, where they left a rental car, then on to Mexico, where authorities eventually caught up with them.

    The knife and clothes found in the trash bin at the grandmother's house were all spotted with Sander's blood and her DNA, Burdett said.

    Burdett also said blood throughout room No. 21 at the El Dorado Motel, where Mireles had been staying for a month, all yielded DNA matching that of Sander.

    None of the blood matched Mireles' DNA, Burdett said.

    Diana Schunn, a nurse trained in examining people after sexual assaults, testified that she has examined 550 patients personally and reviewed 5,000 more cases of potential rapes, sodomy and molestations. She said Sander's sexual injuries were more extensive than any she had ever seen.

    As the defense began its case Thursday afternoon, public defender Melanie Freeman-Johnson called two witnesses to recount the night Mireles and Sander met.

    Both witnesses testified about details earlier witnesses didn't.

    Keely McFann, a friend of Sander's, said Mireles had been asking about buying drugs.

    Brad Scott added that he saw Mireles flashing money and asking where he could buy cocaine.

    "The plan Israel had was to take his money and buy cocaine then have everyone go back to his hotel and party," Scott said.

    "I said no," Scott added.

    The group ended up at the Retreat Bar.

    McFann said Mireles kept buying drinks, as other witnesses had testified. Everyone was drunk, McFann said.

    As the alcohol consumption increased during the night, McFann said Mireles got more aggressive toward women in the way he touched them and talked to them. At one point, McFann saw Mireles and Sander kissing.

    McFann said another man was also talking about Sander.

    "He said she was hot," McFann said. "I said she's too drunk to take home."

    McFann remembered Sander walking onto the dance floor and saying she was leaving with Mireles.

    "I wouldn't let her leave," McFann said.

    Then Sander was gone.

    "She didn't listen to you?" Freeman-Johnson asked her witness.

    "No," McFann said through tears.

    Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or rsylvester@wichitaeagle.com.

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