Crime & Courts

Mireles gets life without parole for murder of Emily Sander

David Ricke had spoken with the same calm, dispassionate demeanor throughout the trial of Israel Mireles, as would be expected of a judge.

But Wednesday, as the Butler County district judge prepared to sentence Mireles to life in prison without parole, Ricke spoke in the same calm baritone, but his words were more forceful.

"Inhumane," was Ricke's descriptions of Mireles' actions in the rape, sodomy and murder of an 18-year-old Butler Community College student.

"The disrespect in which you treated Emily Sander... was and is appalling," Ricke said.

A jury convicted Mireles on Feb. 12 of capital murder, sodomy and rape.

Ricke tacked on an extra 203 months for the rape charge as a legal measure, even though the life sentence guarantees Mireles will never get out of prison.

Evidence showed Sander was raped, sodomized and her face beaten beyond recognition. She was stabbed in the chest and strangled. A coroner's report said the blows to the head, the stab wounds or the strangling, by themselves, would have been enough to kill Sander.

Mireles, 26, fled to Mexico after the November 2007 killing. Because of the extradition agreement between the two countries, he couldn't face the death penalty. In Kansas, the only other sentence for capital murder is life without parole.

Clem Sander, Emily's grandfather, said the family was relieved the death penalty was not considered.

"It would have been too quick for him," Clem Sander said.

"Hopefully this man will never see daylight again," added Russ Sander, Emily's father.

Mireles' parents also were in attendance.

Brent Blaine, Emily Sander's uncle, said he felt sad for Mireles' family, "and the shame they will have to live with now."

Blaine also talked about his niece's strong spirit as the youngest of five grandchildren. Blaine said Emily always tried to keep up with the older kids. Family members said they thought Sander's injuries were so severe because she had fought Mireles to her dying breath.

"Her will was not broken that night, but you are still a pathetic little man," Blaine said to Mireles.

Sander's partially clothed body was found near an embankment on U.S. 54 about 50 miles east of El Dorado. She had been missing for nearly a week.

During testimony at his trial, witnesses said Mireles bought drinks for Sander and a group of her friends at a Chinese restaurant in El Dorado before accompanying them to a bar called the Retreat, across from the El Dorado state prison.

Mireles, a Mexican citizen who was legally in the United States, had been a waiter at an Italian restaurant next to an El Dorado motel, where he stayed with a pregnant teenage girlfriend. The motel was not far from the Retreat.

Witnesses said they saw Mireles and Sander leave the bar together.

During his testimony, Mireles said he and Sander had sex in the motel room. But he left when another man, an acquaintance of Sander, showed up and tried to rob him.

When he returned, Mireles said, Sander was dead. He said he loaded up his belongings and put Sander's body in the trunk, then headed to where his girlfriend was staying in Baxter Springs.

Investigators said they found a large knife and clothing in a trash container at the home Mireles visited in Baxter Springs on his way to Mexico.

DNA testing showed Sander's blood spotted the knife and clothing and covered Mireles' motel room.

During sentencing, when Ricke gave Mireles the chance to speak, Mireles said: "I have nothing to say."

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